In Attendance- Me
Cast Members of Note- Talia Zucker, Rosie Traynor, David Pledger, Martin Sharpe, and Steve Jodrell.
What's it About?- Without giving away too much about the plot, because it twists and turns a lot and ends up being something more than you'd expect from the premise, Lake Mungo is about sixteen year old Alice Palmer; a sweet girl that goes missing on a family outing to a local swimming hole, and the creepy fallout that follows after her disappearance.
Alice's family begin to experience a series of strange occurrences centered around their home, prompting them to seek the help of a local psychic to help them make sense of it all. As the story unfolds, it becomes clear that Alice had some dark secrets that ultimately may have lead to her doom. A series of clues and happenings lead the to the films title location, Lake Mungo, where her secret life is exposed, leaving the family reeling and trying to piece themselves back together.
To reveal much more than this would be a disservice to the film, so I'm going to shut up now. I will say that at more than one time during the movie, I found myself getting goosebumps and screaming at the hair on the back of my neck to stop standing up. That actually happened.
The Good- Part of January's upcoming After Dark Horror Fest, Lake Mungo (along with the excellent Dread), gives me a giddy sense of expectation for what this year's installment could end up being. Finally, we are getting more than second rate B-Movies that aren't really all that good or scary in an American horror festival.
I'm surprised at how much I enjoyed this movie. You see, it's presented to us, the viewer, as a straight up documentary a la something you would see on Unsolved Mysteries or Cold Case Files. It's actually a fictional drama, but you'd never know it by watching the thing. The subtle quiet of the movie makes it work so well, as looking at photographs and videos prove more chilling than anything else that happens on screen.
The real terror in this movie comes from the seedy goings on in a quiet suburban neighborhood, what those actions lead to, and how they can damage someone beyond repair. The theme of knowing your own doom is unsettling as well, an especially with the way it's explored throughout this movie.
The Bad- While essentially a ghost story, the spirits of Lake Mungo aren't malevolent and no one is ever really threatened by any supernatural doings, which just struck me oddly. It's more like The Sixth Sense or The Oprhanage that let's say a Paranormal Activity, in that that scares come in other, less threatening ways. As much as I liked it, I was kinda hoping for a vengeful ghost or something. It's a minor gripe really.
The Downright Horrendous- I don't know if American audiences will embrace this movie as they really should. I mention this because Hollywood is already planning to remake the movie which to me seems unnecessary. This movie stands on it's own as a great film, and an effective horror movie, but the lacks of jump scares and blood probably wont be enough for the movie to make sufficient bank in this country. Oddly enough, it's getting a theatrical release in January as a part of the After Dark Horror Fest, but it's still getting remade. I hope it makes money and the remake just fades into oblivion, but then I always tend to dream too big.
The Gory- There were a few disturbing images, but the gore quotient was very, very low.
The Naked- We get one of the creepiest threesomes ever, and some teenage Aussie girls in bikini's. for the most part, the movie is very tame, aside from its themes.
Best Line- "Alice kept secrets. She kept the fact that she kept secrets, a secret."
What did we learn?- Australia is a very creepy place. Also, just avoid swimming altogether.
The Master Says- B+ (8.5/10) Lake Mungo is an atmospheric, disturbing, creepy, and even sad movie in some ways, and it deftly weaves all of those elements together to pull you in and leave you thinking about it long after you've finished watching. Little more than regret, guilt, and dark secrets manage to make a movie with no violence or threatening antagonists give you goosebumps and make the hair on the back of your neck stand up, which to me is quite a feat. If this is an example of what we can expect when the After Dark Horror Fest IV hits theaters in January, then it's going to be a good month. Go and see this when you get the chance.
Final Thoughts- Beautiful and creepy.