Lake Mungo

Lake Mungo ★★★★

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

Lake Mungo [4/4]
- How shocking and inspiring that a found-footage horror mockumentary from the late 2000s can be this unsettling and emotionally involved 11 years later. Like obviously this was around the popular resurgence of found footage (post-Blair Witch) with Cloverfield and Paranormal Activity, but it was also so immediately commodified that it feels like those were the only two good movies in this style from that era, but in fact, this might be the best of them all.

Lake Mungo is not primarily focused on spooks and gore and jumps and horror, the unsettling narrative comes second to the emotional core of a family devastated by grief and searching desperately for answers and escapes in the supernatural. But there aren't any. We come to understand Alice — the young girl whose untimely demise serves as the focal point of the film — far better as a human being over the course of the movie, but every possible paranormal explanation, every glimmer of hope from beyond the grave, is stomped out and dashed away. Even in the end, when true supernatural elements enter the story, it doesn't offer any solace. It doesn't make what happened any less real. All it does is give us a better idea of who Alice was, and show us that the people that leave us never really do.

Which is really the heart of this, the idea of what it means to be haunted. "Hauntings" have nothing to do with ghosts and everything to do with memories, regrets, discoveries. You love someone, and they die, and suddenly things rise through the floorboards; you learn all about these events in their life that you never suspected could be going on, and this eerie unfamiliarity takes hold as you understand that you knew the version of this person that they wanted you to see, but you couldn't have known the whole, and now you never will. Only when you see their demons and their mistakes, their lies and secrets and hidden desires, only then can you assemble something close to them, but it'll never be exact. It'll never be whole or enough. This fragmented assembly of the person you knew and the person they were will linger in the background of your life forever. Maybe you won't even notice. Maybe they'll be just out of view, or they'll only pop up for a second every now and then, but they will never, ever leave you. That's what a ghost is. That's what it means to be haunted.

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