johnlink ranks LAKE MUNGO (2008)

I almost watched this film a couple of times, but the fund footage thing is one that makes me more and more hesitant. Turns out this is not your typical found footage film but is, instead, a faux-documentary. That may seem a simple distinction, but it is important one because LAKE MUNGO is nothing like a BLAIR WITCH type movie.


I watched LAKE MUNGO (2008) on 7.2.15. It was my first viewing of the film.

This is an Australian film which is, itself, kind of nice to see getting an international audience. But in being so, it should be pointed out, LAKE MUNGO is not worried about being any kind of traditional Hollywood film. To watch LAKE MUNGo is to watch a movie not bound by specific conventions of genre. LAKE MUNGO is a concept movie which works better than it might sound. The idea, here, is that we are treating a ghost story mystery as if it were a real documentary. That has plenty of implications.

For one, rather than being a movie about easy-to-see ghosts and jump scares, this is a movie which hides it’s evidence in the background of photographs. The a-ha moments are much less going for scare as they are for revelation. This is not a horror movie at all, in the traditional sense.
And that leads to another point: This is much more a family drama than a suspense film. The faux-documentary style allows people to say exactly what they mean and why in a way that neither hides anything, nor pretends to. There is certainly a lot of interpersonal conflict, but it is almost all past conflict.
The ‘dramatic reenactments’ are also done in a way which does not belie the idea of this being a true documentary (save for the very last shot, perhaps). This requires some decent acting from all involved to maintain the illusion, which it does very well. We also get people who feel more like people than actors. This is a nice touch, one that should not be taken for granted, as many lesser movies don’t hit it well.
The story is not a happy one. The Palmer family has recently lost their daughter Alice (Talia Zucker). Only, not everyone in the family is sure she actually died in the first part of this film. Instead, Mom (Rosie Traynor) and Dad (David Pledger) have differing ideas of how dead she is, and how likely it is that she might be haunting them. Also involved is brother, Mathew (Martin Sharpe) who is having a hard time coping with the loss of his sister.
We get a bunch of other people too. There are cops, and ex-boyfriends, and neighbors, and psychics. All of this unfolds in a typical documentary style as we learn more and more about what might have happened. This is a film, despite trying to be a documentary, which still tries to follow a typical three-act structure in terms of when things are revealed for the story. There are surprises and twists, to be sure, but those twists and surprises all happen in a carefully planned order.
I like LAKE MUNGO. I think it deserves watching as a small, unique foreign-indie film. It isn’t great, it isn’t scary, it isn’t ground breaking. But it does have a plan and it sticks with it. This is not an easy film or an easily definable film. But it is its own film.
FINAL SCORE: 6.75 out of 10

~ by johnlink00 on July 4, 2015.

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