Willow Maclay’s review published on Letterboxd:
"I’m unsure if ghosts or spirits are real, but I do believe a place can become bad with context, memory and grief. What haunts us are the physical remnants of something that should be there, but isn’t any longer. It’s an entirely relatable feeling to experience something lingering in the strangeness of someone you always depended upon being ripped out of the world. Sometimes people never quite recover. Whenever we lose someone important it changes us, we adapt, but we’re never the same person we used to be. Joel Anderson’s Lake Mungo (2008) is about this very thing, as he takes a look at the Palmer family, who are learning to live without sixteen year old Alice (Talia Zucker) in the wake of her drowning.
Lake Mungo is a “documentary” that presents itself as fact and Anderson treats the grief of these characters with a sincerity that is never once undercut by his direction. Usually in these fakeout documentaries and found footage horror movies there’s a release of tension with an unconscious fourth wall-breaking mentality on the part of the filmmakers. The found footage genre, if treated with irony, falls apart like a house of cards. Lake Mungo is one of the best this subgenre has to offer, because Anderson believes in what his characters are feeling. He also has the intelligence to realize that all of this is more effective if he gestures to realism as often as possible. Lake Mungo was shot on various film stocks and modes of video and is all the better for it. Early on there’s a news report of divers looking for Alice at the bottom of the lake, unable to find her, that recalls the pre-HD era of television broadcasting with all its crackly grain and muffled audio. When Alice’s body is eventually recovered the camera is held back and Anderson refuses to linger on the corpse, because he knows that they couldn’t do it on television during that same time period. A little touch like that one goes a long way in bringing the audience into the lie so they can believe in what is being presented. Anderson’s choices in this regard are so understood that if one were to fall upon Lake Mungo on television with no context whatsoever of what it was, the viewer would potentially believe it all to be real, because Anderson treats it as such."
Full essay here:
www.patreon.com/posts/monster-of-week-52111189 ($1 patrons)