Lake Mungo (2008)

At a family vacation in Ararat, Australia, teenage girl Alice Palmer, played by Talia Zucker (Ned Kelly) tragically drowns while swimming with her family. Understandably the family is devastated by the loss and they find ways to deal with Alice’s passing. Matthew, the teenage brother of the late Alice, sets up recording equipment around their home as he claims that he has seen the ghost of his sister and wants proof of this.

The family finds some comfort that Alice is trying to contact them from the other side and recruit a psychic, Ray, to help explain the hauntings around their home. Ray is unable to provide any information or communicate with Alice on the other side, much to the upset of Alice’s mother, June.

As the plot develops it is claimed by Matthew that the sightings were only an elaborate hoax, orchestrated by Matthew to help his mother move on and accept the death of her daughter. What instead is captured by these hidden cameras, is neighbor, Brett searching frantically through Alice’s room looking for something. The family search through Alice’s room looking for what Brett might have been trying to find when the family uncovers the mystery of what he was looking for the film takes a shocking turn.

Characters are revealed as living double lives and not entirely naive to the events surrounding the Palmer household.

Alice has already been to Ray and already seen her own death, witnessing her unsuccessful attempts to communicate with her family, trapped in the spiritual world. Alice’s boyfriend appears revealing further shocking details from a school trip that was taken to Lake Mungo leading the family back to the location of the tragedy and revealing to them to an impossible conclusion, one which may be more terrifying than the original hauntings.

Lake Mungo deals with the turbulent emotions of grief suffered by the Palmer family after the unimaginable tragedy of losing their daughter and the suspicion that Alice is now haunting the family home. The mixture of terror at being in a genuinely frightening situation and the comfort of the lost Alice being nearby rockets the viewer from empathy to absolute fright. A huge weight is put into the portrayal of these feeling and it is captured eloquently by director Joel Anderson.

The movie relies on the building atmosphere to create genuine scares and ensures that viewers remain either on the edge of their seats or hiding behind a pillow. The creeping feeling of dread throughout the story is compelling viewing at its finest and the performance of the cast members holds this together brilliantly while keeping the flow of the plot. Viewers will be amazed at how the tension is built without the use of cheap tactics or special effects and this makes Lake Mungo a real hidden gem in the horror genre.