2010 After Dark Horrorfest: Lake Mungo (2008)

Ok; let’s clear up a few things:  Lake Mungo, which was made in 2008, is part of the After Dark Horrorfest 2010; Lake Mungo is shot in a faux-documentary style (that was actually effective) but is not based on a true story; there’s already an American remake of Lake Mungo (written by David Leslie Johnson, the force behind 2009’s horrible Orphan) scheduled to hit theaters (yeah, we’ll see about that) in 2011; and most importantly Lake Mungo is not a horror movie.  Argue all you want people but there’s no way this film should be called a “horror movie”.  Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure is more of a horror movie!! All in all Lake Mungo has one or two decent moments but these moments don’t add up too much.

The story is about a teen girl, Alice Palmer (played by Talia Zucker), who drowns while swimming in the local dam.  The movie begins with the event already having happened and Alice’s friend and family are being interviewed in a faux-documentary style.  The documentary style is pretty effective but I also found that it made it difficult to really get into the movie.  When I watch a documentary I’m always very aware I’m watching one and therefore never get completely absorbed into the story.  That format was so well done here that I never truly got into the story.  In fact at a few parts I was expecting Jack Palance to walk onto the screen and grumble in his sandpaper voice, “Believe it, or not.”

The surviving Palmers.

After Alice’s body is found and buried, strange things start happening around the Palmer household.  No, there are no dishes or silverware flying around; no, there are no attacks on the surviving family members; no, there aren’t any walls of blood flowing down the hallways.  The “strange things” here are visions of Alice’s ghost calmly walking around the house and pleasantly posing in other photos.  OH THE HORROR.  If Disney is looking for a ghost story to get kids into the genre, well this is it!!  The brother who’s a wanna-be film maker (and who has some pretty expensive looking equipment) sets up cameras all over the house to capture videos of dead sis walking around.  But are the images captured legit?  I guess you’re gonna have to see this one and find out for yourself.

The douchey brother playing a hoax or a young Dana Carvey??

Ok ok; I’ll tell ya about all the “ghostly images” of dead Alice:  They’re a hoax.  WTF?!!??  I’m only telling you this to 1) save you the time of not watching this movie and 2) ask what the fucking point was of showing Alice’s ghost and then revealing 20 minutes later it was a hoax?  It felt like a huge time waster and an even bigger “fuck you” from the film maker.  And it’s a shame because there were a few genuine “hair standing up on your arms” moments from some of the ghostly images.  But we do find out that Alice had a secret life she kept hidden from both her closest friends and family.  I’m not gonna spoil it (really I won’t) because it’s actually pretty uninteresting (it’s not so much a “secret life” as it is a “horny moment”).  I’m sorry but it’s just not interesting.

The titular lake. Not very scary if ya ask me!!

The movie only starts getting interesting near the end when some archaic clues about her secret  life lead the family to something that happened to Alice at Lake Mungo a few months prior to her drowning.  Again, I won’t reveal what that significant event was, but unfortunately by the time the “big twist” comes you just won’t care.  Director Joel Anderson moves things along at such a slow pace (I mean this one is SLOW people) and throws so many red herrings at you that you just give up caring about what’s going on.  It’s a shame, really, because the “big reveal” at the lake and what happens afterwards could have been effective if the buildup was better executed.  But again; too little too late.

Do you also notice what’s missing in this review?  There really isn’t any kind of conflict or “horror” going on here.  I’m not sure why the After Dark Horrorfest chose this two year old movie for their 2010 HORRORfest.  Granted, After Dark isn’t known for choosing great flicks, but at least they’ve all been horror movies.

ANOTHER pic of the family. Couldn't find 1 scary pic from this flaccid movie!!

Bottom line here is that this is a poorly executed film.  The acting is decent and there’s a good story that’s buried underneath a slow and plodding plot, but Anderson just doesn’t pull off what he set out to do (which was apparently making a horror flick).  If the remake gets rid of all the filler, picks up the pace, makes it a narrative story, and focuses in on the story of what happened to Alice at the lake, I think the remake will have a chance.  The first line in the movie, uttered by Alice, is, “I feel like something bad is going to happen tonight.” Yeah I got the same feeling sweetheart.  If you’re looking for a psychological drama that (kinda) has a ghost in it, well you might enjoy this.  But if you’re looking for a horror movie, definitely skip this one.

My Summary:

Director:  Joel Anderson

Plot:  2 out of 5 stars

Gore:  0 out of 10 skulls

Zombie Mayhem:  0 out of 5 brains

Reviewed by Scott Shoyer

I had to include a ghost pic ... and Casper is scarier than anything going on in this flick!!

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34 Responses to “2010 After Dark Horrorfest: Lake Mungo (2008)”
  1. Some of the earlier Masters of Horror films were pretty good. I haven’t seen any of this year’s but Abandoned and The Hamiltons from the first collection, and Fair Haired Child and Sick Girl are among some of my favorite films. I admit to not having seen this year’s however. Being out of work and penny pinching sucks. I have to say, Fair Haired Child is one of my favorites for the Lovecraftian elements. Sick Girl is just funny (and gross). I’m not a fan of the documentary style movie no matter what the genre, though for some reason I did like The Hamiltons (reminded me just a bit of Romero’s Martin). By and large, I haven’t been too impressed with the series either, but they do have some real gems in there.

    • Not to be anal Candace but you are confusing 2 different series. The first is the Master’s of Horror series that aired on Showtime. This series showcased a “master of horror” in each outing. Lucky McKee (of May fame) did Sick Girl and William Malone (who did the terrible FearDotCom) did Fair Haired Child. Overall the Masters of Horror series was a HUGE disappointment. My favorite eps from it were Carpenter’s Pro-Life, & the 2 eps by Dario Argento (Jenifer and Pelts). But again; mostly vey disappointing.

      The other series your thinking of (and its more of a label than a series) is the After Dark Horrorfest. That started in 2006 and it has just released it’s 4th group of movies. That is the label that The Hamiltons and Abandoned were part of. Again, I think overall the Horrorfest flicks have been hugely disappointing and down right shitty. The only 2 I’ve liked have been Mulberry Street and Dread… NOT a good percentage!!! LOL

  2. Ifaz says:

    If I were to rate this as a movie(not a horror flick), it would be 5/10.

    But I’m about to start a fight with you now. You thought ‘Orphan’ was horrible?!?! It was my second fav. horror film of 2009(Trick R Treat being the first). I loved the acting, setting, premise and climax. But there were two endings of the movie, one of them was terrible, the one I saw was incredible. But to each their own I guess.

    Btw, have ya seen ‘Shutter Island’? Amazing!

    • I agree with ya on Lake Mungo to a point … as a non-horror flick i’d give it around a 4-5 outta 10. Even as a psychological drama (which is what I think it is) I think the movie is still severely flawed. It’s really slow and ya feel yanked around no matter what the genre is!!

      I’m cool; really I am … about Orphan… I hated the ending!!! Which one did you see? And in full disclosure, I rarely like the sub-genre of “killer kids”. I generally think they are poorly written and the kids are rarely scary in them. The one exception is The Children (2008) by Tom Shankland. That is probably the best of the killer kid sub-genre; it was so well done and the kids were realistically scary.

      Shutter Island … I thought the acting was amazing by everyone involved and Scorsese did a pretty amazing job. Some of the scenes were so beautifully shot I wanted to capture them for my screen saver (specifically that 1st scene in the apartment where DiCaprio and his wife are talking and there’s ashes floating all around them as they talk …. it was an amazingly beautiful and eerie scene). BUT I have to admit I thought the story was very lame. About 15 minutes into the film I leaned over to my wife and took a guess as to what the big “twist” was gonna be … I was right. So yes, I really did enjoy the film overall, but I really hated the story … too obvious and telegraphed. Are we gonna fight again?? LOL

      • retaliators says:

        The ending of Orphan I saw ended with Vera Farmiga saying:
        “I’m not your fucking mommy!” Loved it.

        No No, no fight this time. As much as I loved Shutter Island, I had hard time keeping up with the flick because twists and turns kept coming. I wont say it was predictable for me though. I’m officially pissed, Jackie Earle Haley got such a small role!

        And retaliators,


      • Yeah; that’s the same ending of Orphan I saw. Like I said earlier, I’m just generally not a fan of that “killer kid” sub-genre. Nothing about it is scary (with the notable exception being The Children).

        And I totally agree … Shutter Island needed a lot more Jackie Earle Haley!! He may have been outta the scene for a few years but he’s come back with a vengeance. He gets my votes for “comeback of the year”!! I even watch the TV show Hard Target just to watch Haley!! I’m really looking forward to seeing what he does with the Freddy Krueger role.

      • Ifaz says:

        Have ya seen the new ‘Elm Street’ trailer? It’s beast!

      • Sweet … you didn’t get Spammed!! Yeah … I’ve been keeping a close look out on the new posters and trailers for the Elm Street remake. I think they look great and Haley’s gonna be a badass Krueger!!

  3. retaliators says:

    I made it to the spam AGAIN. FUCK!! why does it keep happening to ME.


    • I have NO idea why you keep making it into the Spam folder?? I’ll look into it, but in the meantime don’t let that prevent you from contributing to the blog!!! You have some great insights into genre movies and really add a lot to the conversations (I’ll also start checking the Spam folder for the time being).

      What is “Retaliators”? Sounds like either a cool band or a cool genre flick!!

  4. DjMasta says:

    I really like when people are expressing their opinion and thought. So I like the way you are writing

    • Thanks for the kind words DjMasta!!! There are too many sites out there where reviewers are afraid to express themselves and their true thoughts because they’re afraid they might loose readers. I love me readers and followers and really appreciate all their support, and they know I’m gonna tell it like it is. :-)

  5. gugu says:

    I loved Lake Mungo! It seemed so real that I thought Alice existed. Though, in our world there are many Alice’s who are tormented by the secrets they hold. She died in sadness and in a secret world of shame. Many young girl’s find themselves ravaged by the sad secrets they hide. I loved that the family was as real as my own. I was drawn into Alice’s world and her family. Alice death is her succumbing to the darkness. She is the image that haunts her family. She is in the shadows. She is a dead face at Lake Mungo.

    • You are making LAKE MUNGO way more poetic than it deserves GuGu!! What you wrote about the film is beautiful but I don’t really think the filmmakers were going for that. I agree that the Alice character was portrayed extremely well and “real,” but the movie was so damn slow and essentially built up to nothing. But there are 2 creepy moments: when Alice confronts the “thing” (don’t wanna give away a spoiler) at the lake, and the final shot when the camera pans into the house to reveal the ghost of Alice in the window. Other than that the entire film left me feeling “meh”. I hear this one is going through the remake process; maybe the new filmmakers will be able to convey what you wrote above.

  6. Hayley says:

    Lake Mungo was a different kind of horror film. I don’t believe it fits in with the catorgory of cheap screams and blood smears, but instead it fits into a different catorgory altogether. I started watching this movie 20minutes in and it took me almost the duration of the film to realise it was fiction. Alice’s torments are for more real to me than any other horror film I have seen. While it is different, other horror film followers should try and give this a chance. Originality should not be scorned at or critised simply because it is different to others films you have seen previously!

    • Well put Hayley but I’m not bashing LAKE MUNGO’s originality based on the fact that it’s “different from other films” I’ve seen. I didn’t like or recommend LAKE MUNGO because the film was painfully boring and uneventful. This film should be marketed as a supernatural drama, not as a horror film and be part of the After Dark HORRORfest. No one, and I mean no one, enjoys off-beat and off-center horror films more than I do, but they need to have some substance and they need to have some kind of plot progression!!

      • Moonraker says:

        You don’t know what you’re talking about. This movie was very scary. I had goose bumps the entire time I was watching it. You must just like big, in-your-face scares with loud violins playing in the background. Lake Mungo is for people who appreciate subtle horror. You have terrible taste in horror movies.

      • Oh I know what I’m talking about alright. Obviously you don’t read this blog much or you would know that I think jump scares (with loud accents of music) occupy the lowest rungs of horror. It’s simple; LAKE MUNGO wasn’t fucking scary. At all. All the “ghostly encounters” in the house was the brother fucking around. And by the time the story focused on the girl and her encounter at Lake Mungo, I was already so goddamn bored that I already tuned out. This one had terrible execution!!

  7. sassy says:

    wow i so thought the movie was legit..they fooled me … your opinion sure was relevant.

  8. Juli says:

    I just saw this on epix3 last night. I loved it! I didn’t research before seeing so started thinking it was a docudrama. I got my tv amnesia which tells me I was into the movie. I’d love to read this if it were a book. I’ve been a rabid horror fan for about 40 years and it takes a lot to keep me interested. I thought the many twists were great. I had 3 nightmares that night. Worth watching and this is what Blair witch wanted to be.

    • Juli says:

      Another thing. I would have written that she committed suicide or was killed by mr creepy. And to me this reminds me a little of the Asian horror films that I love who are really into ghosts.

    • Wow, Juli … I wish I had your reaction to LAKE MUNGO!!! I was bored tearless and [SPOILER AHEAD for those that haven't seen it] the scary parts that took place in the house … it was all phony!!! They were tricks the brother was playing. That was a huge middle finger to the audience. But the face of the girl’s ghost in the window of the house at the end as the camera closed in was the only creepy scene. But by then I already checked outta this one. There’s a solid idea in LAKE MUNGO, but it was terribly executed. I’d like to see this one remade and focus on the girl’s story and remove all the bullshit elements with the brother!!

      • Juli says:

        Maybe it was my frame of mind that I was open to all the suggestions that creeped me out enjoyably so

        I watched this for a second time and it was pretty much unwatchable because what I liked about it the first time was not knowing.

        Oh well I’m still waiting for an awesome scare!!

      • Aren’t we all, Jull!! Lol

  9. Moonraker says:

    Wow, I couldn’t disagree more. The mark of a good horror movie is that it scares you. I found this film to be chilling. You just must like a different kind of horror movie. I’ll take ghostly images of a dead girl over Freddy Kruger any day. I thought this film was terrific.

    • No, Moonraker … I’m with ya. I love a great ghost story. When Samara came outta the TV in THE RING remake, all the hair on my arms stood up and my “flight” instinct kicked in big time. I even thought INSIDIOUS was incredibly effective. When the little kid was running through their second home … friggin’ chilling. But LAKE MUNGO …. not scary whatsoever. There were a couple of scenes that could’ve been, but the filmmakers pissed away the opportunities. This one needs a remake.

  10. Terry says:

    I loved Lake Mungo. Rarely do I get actual physical chills from watching a movie but this one did it for me. It doesn’t matter what the revelations in the twists are later – when you’re watching the movie, as it happens, you think what you see is real and that’s why it scares you. That’s down to excellent acting and good direction. It’s about the mood, the atmosphere, the twists and turns, the fact that the movie is so well acted it completely draws you in and makes you believe what you’re seeing. I DO think the director was making the points that gugu says – why do you think he wasn’t? Did you ask him? Did he say to you personally, “oh hell no, I was just going for a bog-standard horror flick with no actual subtext or intelligent themes.”? This is a top class spooky horror movie and deserves much better respect than I’m seeing on this site. Even if it wasn’t your kind of horror movie. Also, I’m also impressed by the fact that it was produced on such a teeny budget. A Hollywood version, by the director who made Orphan? Good LAWD! – now THAT’s a horror-ble thought.

  11. Hands down my favorite of the entire AD lot. I find documentaries SUPER engaging, so it’s probably no surprise I enjoyed this quite a bit. It’s obviously a mock, and I didn’t for one moment fall into the trap of believing the flick to be legit, but it held my attention and then some. The wife actually found it to be frightening. It didn’t scare me, but it entertained the shit out of me.

Check out what others are saying...
  1. [...] Mungo Sixteen-year-old Alice Palmer drowns while swimming in the local dam. When her body 2010 After Dark Horrorfest: Lake Mungo (2008) � AnythingHorror is recovered and a verdict of accidental death returned, [...]

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  • Some of my favorite horror movies:
  • Dawn of the Dead (1978)

  • Evil Dead 2: Dead By Dawn (1987)

  • Martyrs (2008)


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