01st Jul2011

‘Lake Mungo’ DVD Review

by Paul Metcalf

Stars: Rosie Traynor, David Pledger, Martin Sharpe | Written and Directed by Joel Anderson

Sometimes the best style of horror is the psychological, which is designed to get into your head and make you really wonder what you are in fact watching. This is the type of movie that Lake Mungo is.

Lake Mungo is filmed as a documentary looking into the events that took place after a teenage girl called Alice Palmer tragically drowns while swimming in a dam near where she lived. The family talk about how they learnt to cope with the death, and also how they did not. After her death strange things start to happen around the house where she lived and it’s not long before the ghostly image of the girl starts to appear in pictures taken after her death. As events get stranger the family set up video cameras to find the source of the events taking place and it is only then that things not only get stranger but also quite surprising for the family.

This movie is full of intrigue as we find out from interviews with the family and close friends how the death has affected them all and how the apparent return of the girls spirit has added to that and provided them with more confusion and pain. Throughout the progress of the documentary we learn of lies, faked pictures and revelations of dark secrets in Alice’s life which the family believe could have led to her death. In fact by the end of the movie you are almost drowning in hints of betrayals and subterfuge but one thing remains and that is that something supernatural is haunting the Palmer family and the house in which they live.

The documentary style is something that has been done quite a few times before, but here it is used successfully to pull you into the story and actually feel the family and what they have gone through. At times it can be confusing as the story twists around itself trying to create more and more intrigue for the watcher but it manages to stay on the correct road, and that is the road to what actually happened to Alice and why she died. The characters are well written and well-acted so that they become believable to the watcher who is almost led by the hand to see glances of Alice as she appears in pictures, or as she is glanced in videos from the corner of the shots, even if sometimes things are not as they seem. The only storyline that seemed out of place for me was one including the next door neighbours. This seemed to be quite misplaced and could have been cut out easily, but it does add to the suffering of the girl during her life and the tragic nature of the story. Of course the real answer (or question) is what happened to her at Lake Mungo? When the answer is given it is given to us in such a way where we have to decide what it actually was that happened, and did this actually lead to her death?

At its base elements this is a story about a family having to cope with the tragedy of losing a daughter and a sister. It is a look at how people struggle to let go of the people who die and of course, it’s never easy to let go; sometimes people never do. Of course their sadness is prolonged by the fact that Alice appears to not have left them and still appears to cling on to their love. As more and more about Alice is revealed, including the darker side of her life it just adds to the sadness of the family and in the end it’s more a case of the family needing to let go of Alice herself than the hauntings stopping. Perhaps one of my favourite parts is the end credits as we are shown images which add even more to the tale and the sadness of what in the end is a beautiful little movie that manages so much without the use of modern special effects, instead it uses human emotion to pull the watcher into the story. Don’t view this expecting jump out of your seat scares, watch it if you want a movie that actually makes you think about the loss of love ones and the effect it would have on you. Yes it may be confusing at times with parts that are just slightly over complicated and not needed but the movie as a whole is effective, engaging and in the end haunting.

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