Lake Mungo Review

Lake Mungo Review

Lake Mungo

Cast: Rosie Traynor, David Pledger, Martin Sharpe, Talia Zucker, Steve Jodrell, Tania Lentini, James Lawson, Chloe Armstrong, Marcus Costello
Director: Joel Anderson
Screenplay: Joel Anderson
Genre: Drama, Mystery, Thriller
Rated: M Moderate themes and brief sex scene
Running Time: 84 Minutes

If you haven't seen a ghost...look closer.

Sixteen-year-old Alice Palmer drowns while swimming in the local dam. After she is laid to rest, her shocked family experiences a series of strange and inexplicable events.

My Verdict:
In 2005, the Palmer family, June (Rosie Traynor), Russell (David Pledger), Mathew (Martin Sharpe) and Alice (Talia Zucker) visit a local dam for a picnic. Tragedy strikes when sixteen year-old Alice goes missing and a search finally discovers her, drowned in the dam. After an official verdict of accidental drowning, Alice is buried and her grieving family then experience a series of unexplained events that disturb them and leave them with unanswered questions about Alice and the possibility that she may have had a few secrets that will help explain these events and possibly even her death.

Grief is experienced in many different forms and exploring this theme forms a core element of Lake Mungo. The Palmer family have to adjust to the enormous change that Alice's death brings along with the supernatural events and the shift in all their relationships, not just to each other but also to everyone connected. June visits a psychic that she hears on the local radio station in the hope of finding some answers, Russell buries himself in his work and Mathew takes his interest in photography from just a hobby to a paying job.

Lake Mungo is often unsettling as it often feels so real watching the events that face the Palmer family continue to take different directions. Director and writer, Joel Anderson allows the story to follow a path only to take a sudden detour when you least expect it after feeling that a resolution was imminent. This shift in direction helps maintain interest and rouses a curiosity for closure for the audience and possibly the Palmer family, as there are so many questions that need to be answered.

Shot in a documentary style, Lake Mungo is told via interviews with the family and friends of Alice as well as film footage and stills from her life and investigations after her death. This style lends itself so well to the story steering it away from becoming a pedestrian formula horror/thriller and allows for realism beyond the usual. This is not your average horror thriller that uses loud noises and an accompanying loud soundtrack for cheap thrills. There is a gradual increase in tension as the movie progresses, enhanced by the lack of pretension among the cast who are all relatively unknown actors adding to the simplicity. But this is anything but simple. Amazingly made with a very small budget, Lake Mungo is a triumph for its sincerity, mood and class and for treating the audience without any hint of contempt and delivering an intriguing and satisfying experience.

Rating : ****

Christina Bruce

Released: 30 July 2009