Director Joel Anderson’s Lake Mungo is convincingly in the format of a documentary and it works really well. It’s not a found footage movie, it’s fully presented in the style of a real documentary, with talking heads, archive footage many of the other trappings. As such all events are treated as after the fact so the film very much has an old fashioned ghost story telling vibe, but through the language of a modern format. It works very, very well in building up a fantastic sense of believability and it’s easy to get lost in the fiction.
The story itself is bravely slow burning, with only one real jump shock in the entire movie. This isn’t to say it’s not scary however, as ghostly happenings being explained in a matter of fact way genuinely raised the goosebumps on this reviewer’s skin a number of times. The slow burn also means that when we do arrive at the film’s jump shock, it has a very powerful effect. And it’s not just the fact it’s a well done jump shock in a very measured movie; the cause of the shock itself is genuinely unnerving and leaves the viewer disturbed at the masterfully created imagery and idea it presents. It’s not a radically new idea, but given that the film sagely and efficiently prompts the audience’s wider knowledge of ghost lore to feed into the film, the effect is most, almostly strangely, convincing.
While the story is a low-key, however, it is still very enjoyable, with plenty to keep you interested and hypothesizing, without ever throwing you an obtuse curve-ball of a twist as so many modern films do.
Lake Mungo is an absolutely fantastic modern take on an old fashioned ghost story. Seek it out.
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