lake mungo | joel anderson | rosie traynor | david pledger | martin sharpe | found footage | ghost | haunted | haunted house | drama | mystery | thriller | australia | talia zucker | steve jodrell | tania lentini | cameron strachan | mockumentary | judith roberts
Film: Lake Mungo
Director: Joel Anderson
Writer: Joel Anderson
Starring: Rosie Traynor, David Pledger and Martin Sharpe
This was a film that I originally got turned on to as it was part of the After Dark 8 Films to Die For series. It was part of the fourth year and I must admit, this terrified me the first time I saw it. I don’t mean to get your expectations up, but there is something that gets to me and won’t affect most people. Since then, I’ve now seen this quite a few times. Most recently for the Podcast Under the Stairs. The first time I believe for a Movie Club Challenge, then the People’s Council and now as a potential choice for the Summer Challenge Series.
Synopsis: a supernatural drama about grief.
Now that synopsis is a bit vague, but it sums up this movie. This is a found-footage film that tells its story like a documentary. We get a family where the daughter goes missing. The mother is June Palmer (Rosie Traynor). Her husband is Russell (David Pledger). Their son is Mathew (Martin Sharpe). The daughter is Alice (Talia Zucker). She goes disappears while swimming with her brother at a local dam and there is a search for her.
It takes a bit, but the body is found a few days later. June is too distraught to confirm it, so Russell does. It is from here that things get a little bit odd. The family believes their house to be haunted and they seek out a psychic by the name of Ray Kemeny (Steve Jodrell). Cameras are set up around the house and this plunges the family into events to uncover the truth of what happened to Alice as well as the secrets she was harboring.
Now I’m doing my best to be vague here to avoid spoiling the film. This does a great job at making everything that happens to seem real. The event of Alice drowning could happen. There are then images found on the video footage that looks so real that there could be a ghost in the house. There are twists and turns, supernatural and others not so much that flesh out the story. I do believe this is edited well in that respect. It almost seems like it could be an episode of Unsolved Mysteries. The ending is what unnerved me and just the realism of how it was presented.
In an earlier review I did, there was one of the reveals that I stated that I could have done without. Upon later watches, I think it adds something that is needed. We all have our secrets and no matter how much someone knows us, we still keep things from them. It also adds to the mystery of what happened to Alice. Was it suicide or is there still more to the story?
To keep with this film feeling real, the acting does come off as a documentary. Traynor is interesting in that I believe her grief. There is something about her I don’t like, but it helps the film. We get see her with what I believe are her parents and she doesn’t seem to get along with her mother. It adds to the mystery of what happened to her daughter for me as it feels she had a similar relationship with her own child. Pledger was good as the grieving father in my opinion as well. I felt bad for him and he questions himself after evidence that comes out and if he made a mistake. He buries himself in his work which I could see to cope. Sharpe is an interesting character in that he does shady things. I could see it being done as his character was close to the sister. I thought he was fine. Zucker has an interesting role in that we never see her ‘alive’. All her footage is from pictures and home movies. We get enough to set up what we think about her before the reveals and it gets turned upside. The rest of the cast round out the film and help with the realism to show the family’s characters.
There’s not a lot in the way of special effects, but there are some tricks of the footage. It is found footage, but we don’t get the shaky hand camera for the most part. This is technically filmed more like a documentary. Other than that, it is old home movies or cameras set up to catch things in the night which is edited in around interviews to help prove what they’re saying. I thought all of this comes off real and the shots help that. We do get things that are explained away and I thought it was interesting route to go. This is shot quite well for found footage. This time around I did get a bit annoyed with how the footage is grainy. It makes it hard to make out things. It doesn’t hurt the film and if anything, adds to the realism since a lot of this shot on video and old cellphones. They don’t clean which adds another layer as well.
The last thing to go into would be the soundtrack. I think it is used strategically. During more of the tense scenes, I was noticing it this time and it made me feel uncomfortable. Aside from that, it is really subdued or we get nothing at all, which I do think helps as well. It is those times I don’t want it there and it is more of just accent music. I do have to give credit to the movie in the selections and how they were used.
In conclusion, I personally think this is a good film. It seems to be coming off as a little repetitive, but I think it comes off as realistic. We are focusing on the grief of a family where the ghost of the daughter might be back telling them something. There are interesting twists and turns, but I could see someone harboring secrets in real life which could be depressing for them. I thought the acting, the cinematography and the lack of a soundtrack helped to make this feel like it is real. This won’t be for everyone, but it isn’t a shaky found footage film for the most part. This falls into the mockumentary sub-genre of found footage. Overall, I’d say this is a good film and if sounds interesting, give it a viewing.
My Rating: 8.5 out of 10