Lake Mungo is an Australian horror mockumentary that for some reason has gained a serious cult following. The fact that it’s held in high esteem by some is something I find really baffling. It’s about a family whose members start having strange supernatural experiences after their 16-year-old daughter, Alice Palmer, drowns when swimming at the local dam.
And it’s truly abysmal. I had heard such good things about it, but it’s truly one of the worst horror films I’ve ever seen–and I’m someone who hates to say anything is “the worst film I’ve ever seen.” It feels like a really bad Unsolved Mysteries segment dragged out for 87 minutes (and Unsolved Mysteries is generally creepier, and has better production values).
There are all these photographs of ghostly apparitions of the girl, but they are so badly Photoshopped that it just looks stupid. The plot just bumbles along, and then the inevitable ending arrives but without any sense of resolution. It might work OK if you watch a really crappy copy on your laptop under the covers at 4 a.m., but on a Blu-Ray, it looks terrible. There are so many other films about ghostly apparitions of a young girl that a couple has lost, the grief that comes out of that, and whether the visions are a ghost or just something they imagine, but these are all made by real filmmakers. There’s a reason this filmmaker has never made another movie. And so I have to say that it’s overrated and shockingly poor.
Beyond The Blair Witch Project, mockumentaries just don’t really work that well in horror (that one did, especially before the word got out that it was faked). It’s such a tricky way of making a movie that it’s a real risk. It’s not a “found footage” movie either. I’m sure some people will hate me for not liking it, but what can I say?
There’s a bunch of extras in this release, of course—an archive audio commentary from the producer David Rapsey and director of photography John Brawley plus new audio commentary from Alexandra Heller-Nicholas and Emma Westwood; interviews with Brawley, Rapsey, actors Cariole Patullo and James Lawson; featurettes from filmmakers Justin Benson and Aaron Morehead, and also from filmmaker Rob Savage; a video essay from film academic Josh Nelson; a video essay from filmmaker Joseph Wallace; and deleted scenes. The limited edition BluRay adds a rigid slipcase and three art cards, all with illustrations from Thomas Walker; plus an 80-page booklet with behind-the-scenes photos and several new essays about the movie.