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Lake Mungo

Year: 2008
Production Co: Mungo Productions
Director: Joel Anderson
Writer: Joel Anderson
Cast: Talia Zucker

There aren't many Australian horror mockumentaries, but if the subgenre was as crowded as the studio romantic comedy or the bland 70s slasher remake I have a feeling this would be the best one of them.

With news, video and interview footage, the kind of filler they use for background when the newscaster is giving you the details and even clips from a mobile phone camera, we learn about a family picnic to a picturesque lake in a the Victorian town of Ararat.

During the trip, teenage brother Mathew and sister Alice (Zucker) went swimming to the pontoon in the centre of the lake, but only Mathew returned. As police divers scoured the lake floor the family waited in agony for days before Alice's body turned up, waterlogged, white and revealing her horrible death by drowning.

The Palmers try to get on with their lives, but strange things start happening around their house. Photos taken show the shadow of Alice's face, and video cameras they set up to try and figure out what's going on record strange activity in her bedroom and the hallways.

The family call in a psychic to try to get to the bottom of the increasingly frightening phenomena, and writer/director Anderson crafts a Hitchcockian tale of slowly revealed truths. Revelations like the fact that Mathew, in his grief, has doctored the photos, or clues that Alice had some inkling she knew what was going to happen to her will keep you on the edge of your seat with curiosity.

And throughout it all, chilling images of ghostly presences will make you want to crawl behind it. Like Paranormal Activity, Lake Mungo rarely throws something horrible at you with a blast of orchestra music to scare you - it doesn't need to. In fact there's only one outright 'jump' scare in the movie.

Instead, it crawls under your skin with a creeping, slow burning dread, the same kind you get walking further into a darkened room, certain something's going to grab you out of the dark. And don't turn it off when the credits start - another look at the photos that have been featured throughout the movie is the icing on the cake of a very effective ghost story.

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