The Reel Review
This Netflix crime mystery is based on the tragic, true story of Mari Gilbert, and her efforts to find her missing daughter Shannan, a 24-year-old sex worker who advertised on Craigslist and disappeared near a gated beach community on Long Island, New York on May 1, 2010. Mari’s persistence leads to the discovery of a gruesome string of serial killings on Long Island.
With a screenplay based on investigative reporter Robert Kolker’s bestselling crime story, Oscar-nominated director Liz Garbus (What Happened, Miss Simone?) focuses her eye for documentary to drama, capturing Mari’s gloomy despair in every gritty frame. Oscar nominee Amy Ryan (Gone Baby Gone, Beautiful Boy) owns this film as the tough-talking, take charge, working class mother juggling her own failings in raising a mentally ill daughter with her frustration at jaded police investigators who refuse to take seriously the case of a missing prostitute.
Despite an at times uneven script and underutilized roles of the daughters – played by Thomasin McKenzie (Jojo Rabbit) and Oona Laurence (Pete’s Dragon, The Beguiled) – Garbus steers Lost Girls away from the more common, clichéd path of focusing on the seedy underbelly of drugs and prostitution, instead humanizing the all-too-often forgotten victims of serial killers – who are also mothers, daughters, sisters and friends.
• Sarra Gilbert, who is schizophrenic, is currently serving 25 years in prison for killing her mother Mari during a psychotic breakdown at her home in July 2016.
• The Long Island Serial Killer is believed to have killed 10-16 people, many female sex workers, from around 1996 to 2013.
• Dr. Peter Hackett sold his house in Oak Beach shortly after Shannan Gilbert’s body was discovered in 2012 and moved to Fort Myers, Florida. Mari Gilbert’s wrongful death lawsuit against him was dismissed in 2018.