Thursday, February 24, 2011

Lake Mungo (2008)

Note: This review is part of my coverage of Horrorfest IV.

Lake Mungo

Lake Mungo may perhaps be the highlight of this Horrorfest. Rather than a straight up horror film, it's more of a subtle drama about grief, and how people deal with the unexpected passing of a loved one. The story takes the form of a documentary, like an extended episode of Unsolved Mysteries, as others have compared it to. And it's really very convincing. You get to hear testimonies, accompanying dramatizations and file footage, from people who were close to this teenage girl who tragically drowned. The film works great as a mystery, as the various pieces of the puzzle gradually fall into place, and you try to put things together, and figure out what's behind everything that's going on, and what really happened and why. And there's a supernatural element to the story. The girl's ghost appears to hang around the house, and a lot of time is spent exploring that, how it manifests, and whether it's real or a hoax.

The film uses the approach of Paranormal Activity, but instead of making it the centerpiece, with its goal to scare the audience, it uses that device more as a tool to tell the story. So it's like a more sophisticated evolution of Paranormal Activity and its ilk. As a result, it's not as scary (also since there are no demons involved, just a ghost), but it is scary in the same way that a movie like Paranormal Activity is. And ultimately, it's a bit richer story, and it's very sentimental - as I said, dealing with the mechanics of grief, and how people come to terms with tragedy and eventually learn to move on.

It may be a bit boring to some, especially if you crave action, and dull if you're among those who think Paranormal Activity wasn't scary, but as for me, I enjoyed it very much.

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