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Lake Mungo

Lake Mungo (Joel Anderson, 2008) wr. Joel Anderson, prod. Georgie Nevile, David Rapsey, dp John Brawley; Rosie Traynor, David Pledger, Martin Sharpe, Steve Jodrell; horror, mystery; teenager drowns inexplicably in country weir; in documentary style; shot in Ararat, Victoria, nowhere near Lake Mungo; 87 min.

When this ended, I said 'What?' aloud, as I was thinking it hadn't really started yet. I thought I must have dropped off to sleep for twenty minutes, but don't believe I did. The film left a spooky feeling behind, part of which was wondering what happened to more than an hour of my life.

Ghostly shenanigans are dryly delivered in the ambitious, restrained and well-mounted Oz mockumentary Lake Mungo. A 65-minute slow burn to one impactful scare, pic brims with ideas along the way. Joel Anderson's feature bow falls short of Lynchian labyrinth, but his collaboration with talented lenser John Brawley is an atmospheric gem that signals clear potential for bigger and darker things. Pic could be difficult to market unless auds are willing to fall for the Blair Witch stunt twice, but will make a classy entry in fantasy events or fest sidebars. Local release date is currently undecided. Russell Edwards, Variety.

Anderson might’ve made Lake Mungo a little scarier, but it’s suitably chilling, as the family of the dead girl explore the shadows of video images in extreme close-up, looking for traces of the departed. More to the point, Lake Mungo is actually trying to say something, about how grieving people can have their lives consumed by a fruitless search for meaning. Noel Murray, 21 Apr 2010, A.V. Club.

If you were not told otherwise, you would easily believe Lake Mungo to be a genuine documentary about a series of events that have haunted a family in the aftermath of the tragic death of their teenage daughter. This superbly constructed and executed film gets everything right, to the smallest detail, as it draws us into the imagined scenario. The cast - not well known actors, which helps - deliver entirely authentic performances as ordinary folk speaking to a documentary filmmaker about their experiences. Andrew Urban, Urban Cinefile.

There's an unexplained photo, bruises, a hidden diary and video, a lost mobile phone, a seance and a Hungarian born psychic (Steve Jodrell), who inadvertently becomes involved. Anderson's script reveals only as much as we need to know little by little, and we become more and more involved. John Brawley's cinematography enhances the mood as the effect on the family is gauged over the coming months as the secrets of this happy fun-loving girl with a heavy burden is revealed. Louise Keller, Urban Cinefile.

Garry Gillard | New: 2 November, 2012 | Now: 22 June, 2020