lake-mungoAfter Dark Films
2008
R

“Alice kept secrets. She kept the fact that she kept secrets a secret.”

In December 2005, the accidental death of a teenage girl initiated a series of supernatural events that would haunt her grieving family. This film is a record of those events.

At first glance at that DVD back cover blurb that I’ve included, you would probably be forgiven for thinking of Lake Mungo as just another found footage movie with supernatural leanings and such. There are a lot of Paranormal Activity rip-offs going around, as they’re cheep to make and release. As to this being a rip-off of Paranormal Activity, I don’t know. It seems to have come out a year after Paranormal Activity, and given production times and how different the execution is between the two, I would have to say that Lake Mungo isn’t really another Paranormal Activity knock off. What it is, however, is a disappointment.

For the most part, Lake Mungo is a rather well put together independent film that takes the documentary style and makes it work, having this feel more like an actual television documentary you might catch on…whatever television channel runs documentaries, I don’t know. PBS? Does the History Channel even do documentaries anymore?

Anyway, the story involves the family of a drowned 16-year-old girl talking about how they thought that they had evidence of the ghost of their daughter haunting their house. The son had strong photographic and video evidence capturing the ghostly images of what looks like their deceased daughter…until later, when the son confesses to faking everything, and describing how he went about doing so. It was kind of brilliant, actually. In the process, though, the family begins to find evidence that their little girl maybe wasn’t so innocent as they thought. Then they find the one questionable image on her phone taken at the titular Lake Mungo camping site that there might be kinda-sorta a ghost involved…but then they move from the house and the movie ends.

Lake Mungo was marketed as a “psychological horror” film, and was included in the fourth After Dark Horrorfest lineup back in 2010. I wish to congratulate whoever it was that listed that in the application while presumably maintaining a straight face. Because Lake Mungo is “psychological horror” only if you back up a few feet, squint and maybe relax your eyes like this was one of those ubiquitous “magic eye” posters that were all the rage for all of ten minutes back in the 1990s. An episode of Unsolved Mysteries had more psychological horror than this movie did. And labeling it like that is Lake Mungo’s major downfall, as I kept waiting for something supernatural to happen, only to be left feeling more than a bit cheated when the end credits rolled and I got nothing.

Which is all the pity, because Lake Mungo is actually a decent film. It was shot well, looks and flows great, and the actors really pull off the harder-than-it-looks realism needed to sell this as a mocumentary. The story itself was interesting enough to not have to fall back on the whole “ghost story” angle entirely. So, I would recommend watching Lake Mungo, but do so expecting a drama mystery rather than a horror film.

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