31 Days Of Streaming Horror: 'Lake Mungo' Is A Unique And Heart-Wrenching Ghost Story

Welcome to 31 Days of Streaming Horror. Every day this October we'll be highlighting a different streaming horror movie to help you get into the Halloween spirit. Today's entry: Lake Mungo (2008).

Lake Mungo

Now Streaming On Amazon Prime Video

Sub-Genre: Soul-crushing existential faux-documentaryBest Setting to Watch It In: Late at night in a dark, quiet, empty house, preferably in AustraliaHow Scary Is It?: You're going to lose some sleep over this one

"Death takes everything eventually. It's the meanest, dumbest machine there is, and it just keeps coming and it doesn't care." So says June Palmer, the mother of recently deceased sixteen-year-old Alice Palmer. Alice drowned during a family swimming excursion, and her sudden demise has sent her family – mother June, father Russell, and brother Matthew – into a tailspin. None of them know how to handle Alice's loss...but maybe Alice isn't gone after all. Perhaps she's still lingering about, lost in the shadows, whispering words no one can hear.

Joel Anderson's vastly underrated 2008 chiller is presented as a documentary about the Palmer family, who may or may not be haunted by Alice's ghost, and part of the movie's terrifying power is how believable everything is. There are no special effects here. No jump scares. And best of all, the cast of mostly unknown Australian actors all seem entirely genuine. No one comes across as if they're acting here, and since we're unlikely to have ever seen these performers in other films, it's easy to believe that they're actual people and that this is a real documentary.

After Matthew sets up cameras all over the house, the Palmers begin catching glimpses of a blurry figure that looks eerily like Alice. Rather than have this specter come shrieking at the camera for a cheap scare, Anderson instead lets the potential ghost remain just out-of-focus, and sometimes just-out-of-frame. The result is chilling – we can see someone is there. Who is it? What is it?

As Lake Mungo unfolds, the Palmers learn more things about Alice – things she kept very secret. They also learn more about a camping trip she took Lake Mungo, the dry lake located in New South Wales, Australia. Alice recorded footage of her own during that trip, and what she captured is guaranteed to make your blood turn to ice in your veins.

On the surface, this Lake Mungo is a found-footage ghost movie. But Anderson is using that set-up to tell an often heart-wrenching tale of death – that mean, dumb machine that just keeps coming. And the grief that follows after. The grief that can leave a mourner confused, and angry, and, well...haunted. Make sure you stay all the way through the end credits of this one – because even after the story seemingly ends, Lake Mungo has a few more terrifying tricks up its sleeve.