Saturday, March 10, 2012

Lake Mungo

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. I am just sharing my opinions and perspective. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 1-5. 1, of course, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being good and 5, being epic!

Lake Mungo - 4 out of 5

I'm a difficult man to scare.  Watching movies that involve wide-eye, mouth agape females that walk painfully slow towards a sound that, in real life, would be ignored only to have a payoff come in the form of a friend who either surprised her or already had plans to arrive or, even worse, a cat suddenly jumping into shot is NOT what I define as scary.  Watching movies where we see people being tortured with gallons of fake blood staining the walls (lovingly referred to as Gore Porn) doesn't make me cringe, shriek or raise my heart rate, it just is another example of something I DON'T define as scary.  Yet, sadly, legions of horror fans will find these events horrifying.  I call them tripe and boring.  

This seemingly innocent, slightly dark, picture of a backyard is scarier than 99%
of the horror films put out in this world.

However, I have a friend who is a horror film nut--a man who makes horror film fanboys look like they watch scary movies as a weekend hobby.  I don't know if he's taken pity on me for the lack of scares that are in my life but lately he's been sending me recommendations for scary movies.  So far, he's angled me towards a found footage film about alien abduction that I found more humoring than scary (basically, my typical reaction to a horror film) but he did send me a recommendation for a documentary-style scary movie called Noroi: The Curse.  If you read my review, you know it was the first movie in over ten years that scared me--hell, it scared me to the point I had trouble sleeping.  Well, my buddy did it again with Lake Mungo.

Lake Mungo is deeper than just a ghost story as the family uncovers dark events in their daughter's
history.  Even this man, the brother, has some of his own secrets that come out.
And no, the secret isn't the fact he has a band, even though he totally looks like he's in a band.

Like Noroi:  The Curse, Lake Mungo is a documentary-style horror film that follows a troubled family in Australia who just recently lost their daughter.  Trying to deal with their pain, mysterious events start to occur within the home and they start to wonder if the spirit of their deceased daughter is trying to reach out to them.  The "documentary" goes into detail, investigating both the strange events occurring in the house and the mysterious aspects of their daughter's life that started to appear not long before her demise.

Take a loooong look at this picture...within in it is something that nearly gave my
goosebumps goosebumps.

Forget those shitty found footage films with all their bad acting, lack of plot, faux-realism and absence of scares because I think I am now in love with the documentary-style horror film.  The documenting events with hidden cameras actually makes sense and there's no moments where you're saying, "Why aren't you just dropping the camera and running from the monster/ghost/demon?"  But more importantly, the realism that is delivered with this style of films is you NEVER state the question that can make you suffer an aneurism when watching Paranormal Activity.  That question being, "Why was this put in the film?"

Lake Mungo's strongest aspect is how they build up suspense to the point when the payoff comes
(not in the form of a cheap "jump" scare) that even the air you breath gets scared and says,
"I'm getting the hell out of here."

Admit it, Paranormal Activity fans, you found yourself wondering why we had to deal with pointless scenes of Micah and Kate talking about filming themselves having sex or talking about the pointless details of the camera.  Paranormal Boring Activity sold itself on the idea that the footage you are watching was compiled by the police but it doesn't explain why they edited the footage the way they did or why the hell they even edited the footage to begin with.  If my tax dollars are paying cops to sit around on Adobe Premiere editing scenes of two unlikeable characters debating if they are going to film themselves having sex, then I don't want to pay taxes anymore.  Lake Mungo doesn't include pointless scenes of unlikeable characters being completely unlikeable in order to destroy all emotional attachments to the characters when the demon shit hits the demon fan.  The movie is made like a documentary so everything you are seeing has a place in developing suspense and emotional attachment--not just a poor excuse to try and humanize bad actors.

Trust me, this picture doesn't constitute a "spoiler" as when you find out what it is,
you will literally crap your pants.  I know I did.

Another interesting thing about Lake Mungo that sets it above the cheap gimmick of found footage that gave us the snorefest called Apollo 18 is the fact the film footage you see when the family sets up cameras to catch a ghost in action or find their daughter's lost cellphone that contains some very disturbing footage is the fact the footage looks grainy and difficult to make out...hence, selling the reality of it all.  Take Apollo 18, how is it possible that a film that is suppose to take place in the 60s has High Definition cameras?  Or how about Paranormal Activity 3?  I didn't realize the quality of a VHS cassette was so clear in 1988.  Lake Mungo says "eff that, let's make this shit look real because real is scarier than a door closing or a swinging chandelier."  Add these realistic looking camera sequences along with the fact this moving contains something found footage films don't have (I'll give you a hint:  It's called good acting) and you already have something that SHOULD be making more money than the latest phoned-in-for-the-quick-cash sequel to Paranormal "Why Do People Find These Films Scary?" Activity.

This guy has something 3 Paranormal Activity films (and 2 more to come) don't and won't have:
Acting talent.

When I first sat down to watch Lake Mungo, I was a tad skeptical because it was distributed by After Dark Films for the After Dark Horrorfest.  Since this filmfest started, I've watch nearly every single film they have put out there to watch and every single one of them has disappointed me because they were either poorly made or were no different than the usual horror crap that gets unleashed.  The After Dark Horrorfest likes to claim that they release the films that are "too scary" to be put into theaters but the reality is the movies they release are too lame to make it to a theater--and when you consider the sad state that is horror films that hits your local cinema, that says a lot.  However, unlike other After Dark films, Lake Mungo is truly scary and one of a kind.  It never resorts to cheap scares and relies on character and atmosphere to create true horror.  You won't jump out of your seat as you won't see a single cat jumping into the film and you won't see a single squirt of blood but if you want to watch something dark that will raise the hairs on the back of your neck, make your palms sweat and make your heart race, this is a movie to check out.


  1. AND WATCH THE CREDITS... that where I was scared the most.

  2. Don't ruin the surprise, Christy.

  3. This is one movie that Is truly scary! When i think of it i get goosebumps, and my Palms sweat. I've seen pretty much every scary movie out there and this movie is one of my favorites..


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