“In December 2005 a tragic accident began a series of extraordinary events that thrust a grieving family and the small Victorian town of Ararat into the media spotlight. This film is a record of those events.”
How many movies over the last 10 years have started with that line? It scares me right from the jump, but not in a good way, when I realize I’m about to watch another “found footage” or “real event” film. They are almost always a waste of time. And, more times than not, they’re going to leave me with a headache from all of that shaky camera stuff. Unfortunately, I found my first weak entry in the After Dark Fest 4 collection, and it’s drowning in Lake Mungo.
From the gate we realize that we’re watching a fake documentary. I will say that they got the style of these kinds of things down. But that’s about all this film has going for it. The entire film is a collection of witnesses and townsfolk who talk about the drowning of Alice. We get a pretty detailed look at her final hours on December 12, 2005. By the way, the box art puts the event in 2008. It also says the running time is 104 minutes. It’s actually 87. These are all examples of just how sloppy this release really is.
After endless rants we learn that Alice’s body was finally recovered on Christmas Eve after a frantic search by the townsfolk. Ten days after her funeral, strange things begin to happen about town. At her family’s house, doors slam and voices appear to be coming from Alice’s room. Some strange video footage appears to record a ghostly image. We also learn that Alice had a premonition of her death.
Lake Mungo is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1. Remember that this is a fake documentary, so it is supposed to look bad. Mission accomplished.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 track is all dialog and pretty much front and center. It’s like watching a segment on a news station.
It’s a very slow film that offers interesting parts like they were rationed bottles of water in the desert. Tedious doesn’t begin to describe it. It’s like watching someone’s vacation slides, someone you don’t even know. There are too many good films in this collection to waste your time on this one. There are plenty of boring revelations like: “Alice kept secrets. She kept the fact that she kept secrets a secret.”