Coroner’s Report: Lake Mungo

Once again it’s time for After Dark Horrorfest, and just like last year Robert Fure refused to watch any of the releases from foreign lands. You’d think he would have grown or matured some in twelve months, but no, he still believes that foreign horror is inferior to our own domestic terrors. I disagree with him on principle of course, but sadly this year’s foreign After Dark titles don’t do much to support my argument that these other countries can create cinema just as scary as our own…

Sadly, Lake Mungo doesn’t do much in support of that argument either. Presented in faux-documentary style, the movie examines the mysterious events following the drowning death of a teenage girl in Australia. Witnesses begin to see her around town and ghostly happenings occur in the girl’s home that keep her family on edge. Throughout the grieving process the family discovers secrets about her that could never have imagined to be true. Is the spirit sticking around because of unfinished business or an unsettled soul?


Err, one girl drowns off screen.


The aforementioned drowned girl is found. A corpse that has been underwater for several days is not an attractive sight.


We see a fuzzy video of a six-legged sex act. I’ll let your imagination wander on that one.


Much like Catholic school girls and Asians, the quiet ones usually have the most to hide.


Horror films done in documentary style (includes “found footage” films like The Blair Witch Project and Cloverfield) have an immediate hurdle in that we know they’re not real. That fact automatically deflates the intention of the story being true and therefore scarier because it supposedly really happened. But our knowledge of the truth doesn’t automatically make the whole effort a failure. Rec, Paranormal Activity, and The Last Broadcast are examples of movies we know are fake but still manage to scare the piss out of us. It’s all about the presentation, the actors, and most importantly, the story itself. So where does Lake Mungo land?

Well, with one singular exception, the movie is not scary at all. Granted, that one exception is extremely creepy, but it’s not really enough to carry the entire film. To it’s credit the story truly does not go where you expect, and in that regard the movie works because it keeps the viewer on their toes as to what’s happening. But as a horror movie there aren’t nearly enough scenes or moments of terror. People talk about things that happened. We see some images. People talk some more. Aside from the exception mentioned above, there’s no sustained atmosphere. Assumptions are made and inferred only to be debunked later on. That’s not to say the movie isn’t interesting at times… it just isn’t a horror movie.

grade needed

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Rob is the Chief Film Critic of Film School Rejects. He doesn't eat cheese on weekdays.

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