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Australia 2007
Directed by
Joel Anderson
84 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3.5 stars

Lake Mungo

Adopting a documentary style Lake Mungo purports to tell the real story of the drowning of 16-year-old Alice Palmer just before Christmas 2005 in a lake near Ararat in Victoria while on a picnic with her parents and her brother. This opening then segues into examinations of various allegations of sightings of her ghost. This is quite craftily done with real-looking fake television news footage and convincingly underplayed performances from the largely unknown cast. Unfortunately this is not particularly interesting, in fact it seems quite tedious as one person then another gives their version of the events. But gradually there are twists and turns in the plot and what appeared to be a straightforward story about things that go bump in the night becomes more about psychological haunting and the troubles of the soul.

Writer/director Joel Anderson cleverly disambiguates, then reambiguates the conventional ghost story, shifting from the paranormal to the horror within and back again. At times there are some rather convenient devices used, such as the always murky photos that never allow us to make out own assessment of the supposed visual evidence (the fact that the characters constantly talk about “the image” reveals Anderson's theoretical inclinations) and what kind of video camera, one wants to know, can record for a day and a half? However the net result is quite chilling, unsettling without ever playing for cheap effects, empathetic as an account of a family trying to come to terms with its grief and an impressive piece of film-making.

DVD Extras: Commentary with cinematographer John Brawley and Producer David Rapsey; Deleted Scenes; Original trailer.

Available from: Madman

 

 

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