Lake Mungo (2008)
Reviewed by Scott A. Johnson
Starring Talia Zucker, Rosie Traynor, David Pledger, Martin Sharpe, Steve Jodrell, and Tamara Donnellan
Directed by Joel Anderson
One word comes to mind when thinking about Lake Mungo: "disappointing". While it's billed as a paranormal thriller, it fails to pack a punch and leaves viewers feeling like maybe they wasted an hour and a half watching it.
The story opens up with Alice, who's on a family trip, drowning. Her family begins experiencing what they consider to be paranormal activity and believe they're being haunted by her ghost. In the process, they find a few clues that let her family know that she wasn't the innocent little girl they believed she was, and the movie pretty much stops from there.
Shot in documentary style, Lake Mungo has a good overall feel, but there's no payoff. There are two or three moments in the movie upon which the filmmaker should have built the rest of the story, but those moments are just kind of left by the wayside. Everyone is convinced that Alice is haunting them, but there's never any real evidence of paranormal activity and nothing to base their assertion on other than creepy feelings and a radio talk show psychic who doesn't really do very much.
The biggest redeeming qualities of the film are the performances by the actors. It's easy for the audience to forget that they're watching a movie because the performances by everyone involved are so natural, so realistic. And while they do their very best with the material, it isn't enough to save the show. In the end it's not really even horror so much as it is a watered-down mystery, half of which they admit to halfway through the film. Being billed as a "supernatural drama about grief" is even a stretch because there isn't much supernatural about it. When it's all said and done, it is a well done film about a family's grief, depressing, and not at all what should be part of a horror film festival.
2 out of 5
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