Why You Should Watch: Lake Mungo

Lake Mungo (2008)
And yes – that name and tagline is a nod to Twin Peaks

From IMDb: Strange things start happening after a girl is found drowned in a lake.

This is one of the creepiest, saddest horror films I have ever seen. I watched this for the first time last year, and it really impressed me. I’d heard of this film years ago, and regret sleeping on it this long. Please don’t make my mistake, and give this one a shot as soon as possible. Presented as a documentary, this film follows the Palmer family as they try to process the sudden death of their teenage daughter Alice. The documentary style combined with the improvised dialogue make for a horror film that feels incredibly realistic. You might have to remind yourself this movie isn’t real even by the end of it. This is amplified by the way it creates scares.

This film does not have jump scares or bad CGI – none of the crutches many modern horror films rely on. Instead it does something I find incredibly unnerving, relying on showing you pictures and video that seem normal, even mundane the first time you see them. Then they will zoom in on a particular part of the picture of video on something…unnatural. Or is it? There are plenty of twists in this film, each more spine chilling than the last, while never losing its grounding in reality and the slow heartbreak of grief.

Slow is a way many detractors will describe this film. But the documentary style and twisting narrative will easily keep you engaged. And by the time it makes you feel safe, it will hit you with one of the most uncanny scares I have ever seen. I would compare it to the “You’re going to meet death now…” moment in Suspiria, which made me pause the tape (and yes it was a tape), and go outside for some fresh air before continuing to watch.

Watch this movie if you are skeptical about how emotional earnest horror films can be, and don’t mind a mockumentary style of filmmaking. If this were a novel, it would be a hit with book clubs for its exploration of universal, weighty themes mixed with an engaging mystery. It deserves so much more buzz and analysis.

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