animaldoctor’s review published on Letterboxd:
I've been curious about this film ever since I saw Chris Stuckmann's review for his Halloween special a couple of years ago. (Wow, the second review in a row where I've talked about him... can you tell I maybe like Chris Stuckmann and that he maybe inspired my interest in films? Just a little bit?) For whatever reason, I never sat down and actually watched it despite the fact that it's available on Amazon Prime. Recently, however, Chris tweeted that almost a year and a half after making his video, where he stated how terrible the home release of Lake Mungo actually was, an official version of the film was finally released on Blu-ray by Second Scene Films. I pre-ordered the Blu-ray as soon as I saw it, eager to support a distribution company that could bring more attention to lesser-known films like this, along with the idea of owning another collector's Blu-ray case. Funnily enough, despite the fact that I didn't think she would, my mom showed interest in watching this movie tonight, so I watched it with my parents. I genuinely didn't expect that to happen because I thought the premise would turn them away and I probably wouldn't watch it for another week or so, but nope, they wanted to see it, so we watched it together. My goodness, I'm so glad I did.
This film is one of the most authentic-feeling films I've ever seen in my life. It's so authentic that it genuinely feels like I just bought the Blu-ray to a movie that aired once 13 years ago on an obscure TV channel and was finally revived for home release all these years later, an almost lost artifact of a strange historical event. That's how real this felt to me, it felt like a documentary that they made a year or two after all of these events happened, and even though it's a fictional narrative, there's nothing in this script that breaks the illusion that it isn't for me. Every single motivation for characters turning on a camera and filming something is explained, every piece of equipment that can be used to create authentic imagery is used, and every single person working in this cast and crew is at the top of their game working to create an authentic experience for those wanting to watch a deeply haunting exploration of grief and family tragedy.
Without spoiling anything, this film is intricate and engaging enough not just to encourage rewatching it, but to encourage a frame-by-frame analysis of it, which I actually did a bit after finishing the film. Full disclosure, the filmmakers don't cheat, or at least they don't with the important reveals. According to some interviews available on Blu-ray, the filmmakers altered certain shots as they're repeatedly shown throughout the movie to sell the idea of not trusting everything you see right off the bat, but it's so seamless I genuinely couldn't tell. So, yes, there is a lot of filmmaking trickery here with some of the points they want to get across, but there are other, WAY more important moments where they do not cheat and it's all the more effective for it. I'm not gonna get into any more detail because you should just go to Amazon Prime right now and watch this masterpiece if you haven't already.
What I will say is that, as I said, everyone is at the top of their game here. There is not a single misstep when it comes to the authenticity of the acting, there is not a moment where I didn't believe this film couldn't have been a documentary film released in this alternate timeline, there is never a single point in which I was bored by this movie. Everything about Lake Mungo works as an intricately dark and disturbing thinkpiece on losing a family member and the trustworthiness of visual media. You know those documentaries you watch about a historical event you kind of have a grasp on, but then you see some footage you really know well in context and you go, "Oh, wow, THAT'S how this incredibly well-known historical moment ties in with all of this?" This movie works so well as a narrative film within a documentary film that it feels like the kind of documentary that would allow people to gain the context needed to understand this event if it were real while also allowing the audience of the real movie to follow along with the narrative knowing it's fictional. I'm telling you guys, this is GENIUS structuring of a film right here.
Everything about Lake Mungo is absolutely brilliant. I haven't stopped thinking about it all night, and I'm probably gonna be thinking about it for the next week. I'm so, so, SO happy that I bought the Blu-ray (even though it skips to 10 seconds in and mutes the audio on my TV for whatever reason, despite working perfectly on my computer), and even if you're not in the monetary position to buy it or you just don't want that kind of Blu-ray set, just go watch it on Amazon Prime. Do it. It's an hour and a half, it's not even that long. If you like horror, especially, watch this movie. Please. Chris Stuckmann was right. It was everything I hoped it would be and possibly even more. Please watch this. I'm gonna have to think about this statement for a little bit, but Lake Mungo might go into my top ten movies of all time.
Letter Grade: A+
So... interesting development, because my parents and I watched this movie tonight, I didn't end up watching Elizabeth and the Golden Age like I thought I was going to. I mean, it was totally worth it, don't get me wrong, but I do want to watch that movie in the near future since I at least liked the first one. Hopefully, a review for that will come out sometime in the next week, if not tomorrow. In the meantime, watch Lake Mungo and tell me what you think.