Monday 7 June 2021


Following the tragic drowning of teenager Alice Palmer, her family try to process their grief and guilt over her death, as well as uncover the source of the strange noises they've heard from her bedroom and around the house via the recording equipment set up by her brother Mathew. Told via a series of confessional interviews with Alice's family, their hired psychic Ray and those closest to them, we find that there was more to Alice's life and death than first appears.

If you're unfamiliar with Joel Anderson's found footage/psuedo-documentary classic Lake Mungo, don't worry, you're not alone. But I've got good news for you... it's not only excellent, but also possibly going to be your new favourite horror. Under appreciated on its initial release back in 2008, Lake Mungo has since taken on mythical status among horror nerds and film twitter due to its series of slow burn shocks, revelations and constant toying with our expectations. Largely dismissed at the time, perhaps due to its slightly odd title and an assumption it was another of the found footage knock-offs that sprang up in the wake of Paranormal Activity's break-out success, Lake Mungo stands alone as an inventive, truly surprising film that's not only a complete joy to discover, but also to share with a new audience.

And so it's good news the film has finally been given the home entertainment release it deserves, after a couple of releases with covers that were either nondescript or far too flashy (and with a tagline that got the details of the film wrong), we now have some new artwork and a limited edition "rigid slipcase" that's like catnip for any blu-ray collector. The latest in a line of impressive releases from Second Sight (both Raw and Dawn of the Dead are must buys), they've taken the opportunity to dig into the film and its legacy in the extras, via new interviews with genre directors like Host's Rob Savage and Spring/Synchronic's Benson & Moorhead. Also included on the disc are a couple of new video essays, interviews with the producer and cinematographer, and a pair of new and vintage commentaries.

As for the film itself, 13 years after its original release (and approaching ten years since I first reviewed it) it holds up as a film that could only have been made at that particular technological point in time, with grainy photographs and pixellated phone camera footage adding to the whole aesthetic that makes this feel all too close to real life. The cast - all unknowns unless you're oddly familiar with Australian serial dramas - are all immensely likeable and believable as a family, even if one or two of their actions push up against the limits of plot contrivance, clearly only there to give us another unforeseeable twist. But overall it's an expertly crafted film, delivering real shocking moments as it zooms into images we've previously seen to offer new revelations, with an ability to chill your bones like no other film has before.

Upfront about its reverence to David Lynch's Twin Peaks and its prequel film Fire Walk With Me (the family are even called the Palmers for chrissakes), the spectre of the troubled Alice - whether real, fake or somewhere in between - lives large in Lake Mungo, and as we find out more about her life in the lead up to her death, it's a compelling, surprising and often deeply mournful film, albeit one with the capacity to deliver real, long lasting scares that will live on in your mind once the film ends. A genuine cult classic that deserves to be loved by a willing audience - don't be fooled into thinking this is a mere clone of Paranormal Activity and the like, be brave enough to step into Lake Mungo cold and be completely swept up by it.




    - Archive commentary by producer David Rapsey and director of photography John Brawley

    - New audio commentary by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas and Emma Westwood

    - Captured Spirits: An interview with director of photography John Brawley

    - Ghost in the Machine: An interview with producer David Rapsey

    - A Cop and a Friend: An interview with actors Carole Patullo and James Lawson

    - Kindred Spirits: Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead on Lake Mungo

     - Hosting Spirits: Rob Savage on Lake Mungo

     - Simulcra and Spirits: A video essay by film writer Josh Nelson

    - Autopsy of a Family Home:  A video essay by filmmaker Joseph Wallace

    - Deleted scenes


    - Rigid slipcase

    - Booklet with behind the scenes photos, new essays by Sarah Appleton, Simon Fitzjohn, Rich Johnson, Mary Beth McAndrews, and Shellie McMurdo, and an interview with actor James Lawson by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas.

No comments:

Post a Comment