Lake Mungo (2009)
Shortly after the mysterious death of sixteen year old Alice Palmer, her family summons a psychic and a parapsychologist into their home and discovers that the secretive teen had been leading a double life. Alice was swimming in a local dam when she drowned tragically. Later, after her body is recovered and the coroner issues a verdict of accidental death, Alice is laid to rest and her family returns home to grieve in peace. The Palmer's mournful silence is short-lived, however, when a series of strange occurrences in and around their home leaves them convinced that they are experiencing something supernatural. Seeking the advice of a psychic and a parapsychologist, who reveals that Alice had been keeping some profound secrets from her friends and family, the Palmers travel to Lake Mungo and begin unraveling the mystery of the troubled adolescent's double life. A faux-documentary shot in the style of The Blair Witch Project and Diary of the Dead, Lake Mungo proves that the mysteries of the living don't lie silent with the deceased. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi … More
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Critic Reviews for Lake Mungo
Apologies to Samson and Delilah, Mary and Max and Balibo: the one true great Australian film of 2009 was easily Joel Anderson's Lake Mungo, a mournful, dreamlike examination of the hole left in the heart of a family after a death.
a sophisticated, adult tale that blends complex, compelling emotions with reflexive commentary on film as a 'medium' of memory, manipulation and magic... a classic supernatural enigma, once seen never forgotten.
And don't deny yourself the film's final creepy images - stay for the credits...
It's actually quite difficult to imagine that this isn't a true story, and that the actors playing the tragic Palmers are not exactly who they say they are.
An after-the-fact faux-documentary about the death of a young girl -- and the creepy little hints she may have left behind.
It's not so much scary as spooky (except for one really creepy moment) but this ghost story is less about supernatural hauntings than human secrets and lies.
The entire film may be a construct but the skilled direction, writing and acting give Lake Mungo a spooky 'realistic' authenticity.
It's actually very nicely done, using untrained actors and the documentary form disconcertingly well to destabilise audience expectations at a number of points. Is there a ghost story? Why is the family so rattled? What's happening?
It may be overstating it, but Anderson's command of cinematic language is right up there with Bryan Singer's audacious bag of tricks in The Usual Suspects.
Every time this slow-burning thriller appears to be running out of wick, Anderson's screenplay drops in an unexpected twist with impeccable timing.
Anderson's use of the documentary framework is an inspired choice, since it lends what we're seeing an air of reality that helps build the tension to jangling point.
As a ghost story, the underplaying of the actors helps to make the mystery creepily effective, but the mockumentary format is a bit of a cop-out because it allows the filmmaker to avoid all the big dramatic scenes.
Genuinely compelling, this mock documentary from first time feature director Joel Anderson builds on its wonderfully eerie mood to deliver an enigmatic ghost story, family drama and story about a teenage girl with secrets.
This superbly constructed and executed film gets everything right, to the smallest detail, as it draws us into the imagined scenario.
Audience Reviews for Lake Mungo
A mockumentary with actual brains and with a story not build around the gimmick of the "shaky realistic camera" or whatever you want to call it. There are some flaws, the story lacks more juice and it wanders a bit too much on several places. It's a drama with a supernatural background, it bothers to have more compelling characters than just walking cliches. Not a classic but certainly worth a check.More
Lake Mungo is an excellent documentary-style ghost story from Australia. It was quite different from what I expected. This isn't Paranormal Activity, despite the vaguely similar premise. It's primarily about the story of a family who has lost a loved one and can't let her go. This is much closer to a paranormal triller/supernatural drama than a horror movie.
Recalled mainly through interviews, camera, and cell phone footage, Lake Mungo is about an Australian family named the Palmer's. Teenage daughter Alice is lost in a drowning accident while on a family outing in 2005. After her death, they still sense her presence in their home, and shadowy images of her begin to show up in photos. Revealing any more of the story than that would be a disservice.
Kudos to the absolutely excellent acting from the relatively (at least, for this American) unknown cast. This is one of the more "real" feeling fiction documentaries that I've ever seen. This a lot of the reason Lake Mungo was so immersive to me. All the characters seemed like completely genuine people. This almost could have been a documentary that I stumbled upon while flipping through the channels.
This is probably one of the creepiest movies I've seen since The Others. Very unsettling. Not a lot of big chills and shocks, but it slowly builds an unsettling sense of atmosphere and dread of the unnatural and unknown, along with an unexpected but welcome mystery element. The plot goes a lot of places that might not be expected. At it's heart, Lake Mungo is also a quite sad movie. It was easy for me to believe that these people had lost a beloved daughter, sister, and friend, long before her time.
If you're looking for a pure, jump out of your seat popcorn horror flick, this isn't it. I happen to think it's something more interesting than that, though. A movie that sets out to do something different, and does it very well. I loved it. I haven't been this pleasantly surprised by a movie since Triangle.
Cast: Talia Zucker, Rosie Traynor, David Pledger, Martin Sharpe, Steve Jodrell, Tamara Donnellan, Scott Terrill
Director: Joel Anderson
Summary: When a series of inexplicable supernatural events strikes their home, Russell (David Pledger) and June (Rosie Traynor) Palmer try to figure out exactly what is behind the tragic drowning death of Alice (Talia Zucker), their 16-year-old daughter. A psychic (Steve Jodrell) might be able to help them.
My Thoughts: "I really liked that the film was shot in documentary form. Just them telling the story is what made it more interesting, and believable for me. The acting was great, and the film was well made. I found myself being drawn into believing the story was true. The film is not scary. There's nothing jumping out yelling BOO! But the film is haunting, chilling, and also terrifying in a way. The footage on the daughters cell phone is creepy, and psychologically disturbing. A great ghost story."
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