Killtoberfest 1 – #18: Lake Mungo

In All, Movies by Kyu



The experience of the next Killtoberfest movie, Lake Mungo, is the experience of looking at a photograph like this. Grainy, blown-up, hard to tell what’s there–is that blur a person? Is that shape a face? Or does the mind see only what it wants to see? Look again.

The movie is a 2008 fake documentary from Australia; unlike virtually every other fake horror documentary, it’s restrained enough that it could actually be a documentary. No CGI monsters, no panic. Just alternating sadness and chills. I think it’s well worth your time.

The story concerns a family dealing with their grief after a daughter’s drowning death. In the wake of this tragedy, they turn to various methods of coping. The son renews an interest in photography. The mother sinks into a deep-seated denial. The girl’s room is kept just as she left it. None of them can move on. And, as it turns out, that may also include the dead girl, as the son’s photographs start to reveal her presence.

Where the story goes from there I wouldn’t say, but its twists and turns serve to get closer to the psychological and metaphysical underpinnings of grief. It’s an old-fashioned ghost story, where the dead are not vengeful monsters but symbols the mind conjures to try to fill the sudden hole of their passing. What we are left with in the end is death: an immutable fact and yet totally inexplicable, a face in the dark that shouldn’t be there but it is.