Month of Horror 2019 Day 8 Lake Mungo

Today continues a series on found footage horror for the week.

So much of life is filled with little mysteries. About a year ago when leaving work there was a red apple on the roof my car. Surely someone left it by accident. Or maybe it was somehow meant for me. Maybe it was even meant to suggest something sinister. I’ll never know as I pulled out of the lot and just let the apple roll off my roof, but that random little mystery has always stuck with me. God help me where my brain would go if I ever lost a kid.

Lake Mungo (2008)

This found footage horror film deals with a small family and small town’s tragedy when their daughter first goes missing and then later is found drowned in a local dam. Using “interviews” with the family, friends of the family and using old fake home movie footage, the film is able to stitch together a narrative and emotional portrait of a small, relatively average family that does love each other which only amplifies the grief felt. Of course trying to move on is one thing, but when the son (who has been into various photo and video projects himself) decides to set up cameras around their house, he begins to find weird images being captured at night including one that looks like his sister brushing her hair.

The Realness of the Unreal

To go more into the story would ruin just how many twist and turns the narrative takes, but as more local footage surfaces including other people in the town starting to think they’ve seen the drowned girl, the family works harder to find answers or at least some closure.

The use of the personal footage and the intimacy of the interviews only heightens the creepiness once the plot starts heading in more disturbing directions. No direct spoilers but I am not an easily scared person and would definitely put this movie in my top 10 of scariest films I’ve seen. There’s something terrifying about the unreal seeming plausible.

What makes a horror movie “good”? Well since there are a variety of films out there, I try to judge a film mostly on what it is and not for what it isn’t. This movie is going for chills and delivers, but those wouldn’t fully resonate if not for how real the family and their pain comes across using the specific narrative structure of this found footage. I think when at its best, found footage is able to tell a story that can have an unnerving sense of verisimilitude. That ultimate feeling that someone just told you a real life campfire tale that could happen in any town, even your own. Throughout this week, I look forward to continuing this dive through this specific subgenre.

Feel free to share any favorites or any reasons why found footage doesn’t do it for you below!