Lake Mungo is one of those films that you can fully enjoy as a pure horror but also recognise it as an exceptional way of portraying the handling and coping of grief. Its static and jarring sound design adds a new layer of unsettling to its already creepy imagery filled with ghostly apparitions and moving figures. It gets under your skin, and I found myself looking behind me a few instances while watching. It’s not that it’s overt in its presentation or an overall in-your-face scary; it’s quite the opposite. It’s genuinely unnerving, the haunting imagery leaving a lasting impression on your psyche.
The way Lake Mungo portrays grief blends perfectly well with its aspects of horror. A family coping with the loss of their daughter, figuring out the how and why to her death. The movie encapsulates these feelings perfectly through a documentary-styled aesthetic that doesn’t lend itself to any sort of melodrama. It feels natural, not only in part by the actors’ methodical performances that breathe authenticity, but also in the way the film directs itself. It’s a slow-burn that doesn’t feel like a burn at all, and its pacing is smooth as the story progresses forward. The bits and pieces of information added are placed effortlessly as the mystery begins to unveil itself. The drama is nice and not excessive. Lake Mungo, like I said again, feels natural. And its in this natural feeling that makes it such a captivating watch.
Lake Mungo is not your typical horror film. It’s much more than that. It’s a film that gives you that adrenaline feeling of being suddenly aware of your surroundings while also allowing for you to analyze and sympathise with a down-to-earth story. It’s through this this storytelling that makes it so brilliant.