Lake Mungo

Lake Mungo ★★★★

Hooptober 2021 — Film #21

Transmuting the acts of grief, denial, creating and buying into whatever lies are easier to face than the truth, and learning the difficult-to-swallow truth that ultimately reveals more about a nuanced person left secret in life and whether learning those secrets will be met with acceptance or further denial — an inability to see the person that is right before you — through a gradual discomforting found footage lens. Renders the most uncanny elements of documentary filmmaking and home videos into a terrifying maw that creeps up on you before swallowing you whole, where even the most mundane footage becomes an uncomfortable peek into lives we learn all too much about alongside those who knew them far longer than we ever did.

I've noted in a few reviews this year that I've unintentionally been watching a lot of ghost stories in film this year, but this is perhaps one of the most comprehensive in that bunch: a haunting look at the afterimages of a life, the unveiling of the sheet that rendered that life invisible — inscrutable — to others before, and the lingering presence that remains.

That final sequence crosscutting between Alice and June's overlapping psychic experiences with Ray — driving home the narrative a mother who was never able to truly see her daughter as she was — is one of the most crushing, tense pieces of filmmaking I've ever seen. A ghastly tragedy of the highest degree.

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