Sunday, December 20, 2009

Lake Mungo: So Much More Than a Ghost Story

Lake Mungo is not at all how I thought it would be. It's one of the most telling and chilling ghost stories that isn't necessarily about a ghost. How is this possible? I have no idea. All I know is that this movie had a strange power and I may think twice about going to bed tonight. I don't usually get freaked out by movies anymore- but the subject matter and the overall gloom and haunting nature of Lake Mungo really made me feel unsettled. Maybe if I talk about it more I'll feel better....half smile.

Lake Mungo is filmed documentary style. The style of filming and the subtle and extremely convincing performance that the actors gave was enough to have me checking IMDB to make sure I was watching the correct movie. Most summaries of the movie will tell you the film is about a girl named Alice who drowned and after her death her family begins experiencing strange going ons, like unexplained figures in videos and pictures. This- forgive me for saying, is completely misleading and makes me wonder about why this film was marketed in this way. One of the tag line's is even, "If you've never seen a ghost...look closer" While- this particular tag line is somewhat fitting for the depths that this movie takes on- it still makes me wonder if they intended to trick people into seeing what they thought was an all too familiar ghost story. The problem is, Lake Mungo is worth so much more than that and I do feel that that marketing technique unfairly represents the film.

But enough of that babbling. Lake Mungo is one of those movies that has you putting pieces together up until the very last frame- and then some. Even right now my head is still going a mile a minute and realizing different things from the beginning that make so much sense to me now. There is really such a simple and understated idea of what is fearful in this movie, and it's working on many many different levels. The figures that appear in the footage, the found secrets of Alice, the discovery of certain truths, and the fear of the future and the innate fear of death. Lake Mungo is-dare I say it, one giant onion with layers and layers of thought.

I really don't want to give much away. I want to talk about so many things but part of the experience of the film is finding and understanding these revelations for yourself. Sounds pretty cheesy I know- but trust me on this one. I will say that I'm still baffled by how authentic the documentary style was. I can't get over how completely convincing all the actors were. I really thought for a moment there that I was watching a documentary on the earlier film Lake Mungo that was telling the actual true story of the event! Silly me.

So if you have a chance to see this please do. The concept of death, and the true meaning of what a ghost means is such a provocative topic to me. It sort of channels Don't Look Now in that sense- especially with the reoccurring images of the dead child and the different perspectives that each parent has. Parts of the movie still are confusing me but I'm confident another day will have me putting the final pieces together. I just really love how they parallel Alice's sessions with the psychic with that of her mother's later sessions. It was such a brilliant revelation and the heaviness that that part brought upon was almost unbearable.

Overall a genuinely terrifying movie that I did not expect at all. Apparently they are remaking this for us Americans because you know, Australian movies are just too foreign for us to handle. Although I despise remaking foreign movies for the sake of bringing them to a wider audience- there is a part of me that doesn't hate this particular choice. That, however is only because I don't think this movie will get any kind of recognition otherwise. Unless of course all 69 of my followers watch this and rave and rave about it...hmm...get to work!

Lake Mungo will be part of HorrorFest's 8 films to Die For Which should be starting at the end of January and going into February. If you can't wait to get a hold of this haunting movie you can also buy it!

10 comments:

Igor said...

Sounds like our kind of movie. We will have to look out for this one. Psychological horror with perhaps some supernatural element is just our bag. Thank you for this find. You did good. :)

Tasha said...

This sounds fantastic, and I'm surprised I haven't heard of it. I'm Australian, and honestly, good Australian films are so incredibly rare, sometimes me & my boyfriend see a trailer for one it's sort of like "hey there's an Australian film that might not suck".
It's a shame to remake it but if that's what it takes to get more audience for the original, then that's cool. I know I've always searched out the originals of foreign remakes...I hope other people are the same!

Planet of Terror said...

I can't wait to see this. Looks like this years installment of the 8 Films to Die For series is going to be a doozy.

Andre said...

It's been playing secretly all over Australia according to the where to see Lake Mungo link on the website. It's also as Planet of Terror says, slated to play at the After Dark Horrorfest 8 films to die for festival in January of this year. You can also buy the movie on the Lake Mungo website.

But yes pretty spectacular- but not in the way I had imagined!

Nicole_Hadaway said...

I hate it when Hollywood does superfluous remakes, of which they've been doing alot, lately. Thanks for spotlighting this movie -- I'm definitely going to rent it soon!

James said...

Great review!

Wow . . . this sounds fantastic.



J.N.
http://www.james-newman.com
http://www.myspace.com/newmanjames

Kyle Scott said...

brilliant film! The 'cam shot' freaked me out badly. that was an image that stayed with me for days. also, the final shot was very haunting. well worth checking out, this one.

Anonymous said...

I loved it! The twists..although it was far from horror or scary to me! It was so good!

Anonymous said...

I just watched this and didn't realize until the end that it wasn't real. It was a pretty haunting movie, loved it!

Joe Blevins said...

I've seen this movie many of times and at first I thought it was based on a true event but as I read lots of comments and thought this is one clever scripted movie and if it were or if its based on similar events then I'd say its one of my all time movies favorites...No doubt one of the best I've seen so far.....