DIRECTOR Joel Anderson
STARRING Talia Zucker, Rosie Traynor, David Pledger
DISTRIBUTOR Arclight Films
RELEASE DATE June 18, 2008
RUNTIME 89 Minutes
Alice drowns while swimming and her family begins experiencing inexplicable events in their home. The family hires a parapsychologist whose investigation unveils Alice’s secret double life and leads them all to Lake Mungo.
If my opinion was formed based on the general description of this film my initial discernment would be “Okay…another found footage ghost story.” But My girlfriend and I have the rule to finish the entire film, no matter how bad it may be…Well, my prediction made me look like a damn fool. Not only does this movie satisfy your craving for a fresh spin on the ghost story; it throws you into an eerie ambiance of Suburban Australia that is not what it seems. It’s more a mockumentary than found footage as if it were a crime documentary on Dateline NBC. I would have never expected the excellent plot twists and unraveling creepy secrets that this film delivers on the unsuspecting audience.
We are introduced to the Palmer family and the recent tragedy they have endured: the mysterious drowning of their teenage daughter, Alice Palmer. (Palmer? That sounds familiar and I’m sure that was no accident)
At the surface, she appears an average happy teenage girl with a loving family and boyfriend subject to an accidental tragedy, but as the story trudges through interviews of the family and friends things begin to get spooky. Alice’s brother sets up cameras to capture a ghostly apparition creeping around their home, as well as further viewing of footage from the day of her drowning we notice a lone figure reminiscent of Alice lurking in the background. This may seem like a set up for generic found footage plot device but it is definitely used to its advantage.
The story is told through a collection of interviews and footage from home video, audio tapes, and cell phones. This medium produces an unsettling realism that makes us think “Do we really know the people we call our friends? Our family?” Even the acting, which is irrelevant if it can be considered bad or good, adds to the effect that this film is all too human. Lake Mungo slowly shatters our perception of intimacy and shows us an exercise in the existential crisis, especially among the “so-called” happy suburban family. The film is not just a slow burn, but a candle slowly burning out leaving us empathic to the feelings of loneliness and shame.
If Joel Anderson wasn’t influenced by Twin Peaks then I must be in an alternate universe, because the movie is riddled with Lynchian moments of secrets, mystery, and in its subtle form the surreal, especially in the film’s conclusion. The only thing lacking is soft synth scores and people speaking in reverse. And I’m not even being critical of the similarities, I think it makes the movie even more enjoyable. I applaud Joel Anderson’s writing and directing in this film 100 percent because it is rare a movie can make flip my opinion so aggressively.
So if you’re into creepy slow burning ghost stories with some mystery to them I strongly recommend this film. After viewing it once I wanted to watch it again just because I wanted to make sure there weren’t any hidden things I could have missed when I blinked or glanced away from the screen. The film might be something you wouldn’t want to watch alone late at night, just because it makes you paranoid something is waiting behind your peripheral view. It is a great addition to my collection and will watch it again. If I were you I would def give this underrated Australian gem a chance.