book and movie reviews

Lake Mungo (2008)

This. Movie. Was. Amazing.

Okay. That’s not all I have to say, but that’s the main point.

After a few years of hearing about this film – It’s good points and bad points – I finally decided to give Lake Mungo a try. Well, I tried to give it a try in the past, but could never find it (I suspect that because this is an Australian independent film, it was quite scarce in the United States). But now, thanks to more prevalent streaming services (and in particular Tubi), I was finally able to watch this gem.

Written and directed by Joel Anderson, Lake Mungo is a mockumentary that tells the story of a grieving family who has lost their daughter, Alice, due to drowning. After her death, the family experiences inexplicable supernatural events, or so they think. In reality, it is the family’s son creating ghostly photographs and video, claiming the ghost is his sister. In the only genuine piece of “evidence”, the “ghost” turns out to be a neighbor who is looking for something in Alice’s bedroom. Without going too much into spoilers, the creepy neighbor and his motives propel the story forward, and we find out the truth about Alice and Lake Mungo.

I was outraged when it was revealed that the “ghostly” evidence was not ghostly at all. Only Mathew grieving in a strange way. I felt duped. I felt dumb that I didn’t catch it before. But this is not the end of the story. I initially failed to realize that there is 20 minutes left of this movie when it’s revealed that Mathew faked the evidence. I continued to watch.

I’m not going to go into what the rest of the movie holds because I’m hoping that if you haven’t seen this movie, that you go watch it post haste. One tip I’ll give you… Watch the closing credits. You won’t be disappointed. (But if you are, it’s not my fault.)

There’s not much I want to say about the cinematography or the score or anything like that. All of that was pretty average. However, what I do want to say is that the acting is incredibly believable. The characters are what pulls you into this story, and without the phenomenal acting, this film wouldn’t be as great as it is.

Spook-O-Meter

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I was looking into dark corners and watching shadows all night after watching this film. It’s rare that a movie does that for me anymore, and for that, this film gets five out of five spooks.

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book and movie reviews

The Rohl Farms Haunting (2013)

I have always loved found footage. There is something about this sub-genre of horror that I can really get into. I’ve seen a lot of bad found footage throughout the years, but there are some independent gems out there. One of these gems is The Rohl Farms Haunting.

The Rohl Farms Haunting is a 2013 found footage horror flick directed by Cordero Roman. The film details the making of Cordero’s documentary of life on his friend Luke’s farm. While filming, Cordero manages to capture strange knocks at the door and things around the house being moved. This happens at the same time every night, leading the friends to believe that the farm is haunted. However, something more sinister than a ghost is visiting the Rohl Farm.

Cinematography and Authenticity 

It is set up early in the film that the character of Cordero is an amateur filmmaker currently in film school. This is evident in the way Cordero uses the camera and articulates everything he is doing while adjusting it. There are times throughout the second half of the film when the presence of the camera seems to be an afterthought. For instance, the camera bounces, shakes, and is unfocused when Cordero is running or otherwise frantic. This creates an authenticity that many found footage films just don’t have anymore.

While watching, I never once asked the question many always ask while watching a bad found footage film: “Why are they still filming?” I was so engrossed in the content of this film this question never entered my mind. This is probably because the film answers this question for the audience in the way Cordero utilizes the camera through the tense times. For example, when Cordero is chasing someone or something in the milk house, he uses the camera’s light to see in the otherwise pitch black building, accounting for the “inadvertent” filming. Many times during tense moments, Cordero simply puts the camera on a table, “forgetting” to turn it off, therefore capturing the action for the audience. These techniques work well to maintain the film’s authenticity and allow for the audience to become almost like a part of the guy’s group.

Pacing and Acting

For me, the pacing was perfect. There are some found footage films that fill the beginning of the movie with trivial banter between the characters just to pad the run time (I’m looking at you The Final Project), slowing the pace to the point where you can’t even watch far enough to get to the spooky stuff. This is not one of them. After establishing the location and the reason for the documentary, spooky stuff begins to happen right away. Much like The Blair Witch Project, the spooky incidents start small and steadily build as the movie progresses. Each night, the spooky occurrences become worse until they come to a head in the climax. This is how any movie should be paced.

The acting was decent. I did believe that Luke Rohl was a tired, rugged farmer who didn’t believe in the supernatural. I did believe that Cordero was an ambitious amateur filmmaker who may be just a little high-strung. These characters’ personalities played well off of each other, even clashing at some points, making the friendship and situation that much more authentic. There were times when Cordero seemed a bit over-the-top in his reactions, but who am I to say how another would react in that type of situation? I’ll give him a pass.

Spook-O-Meter

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I give this film four out of five spooks. While this is one of the best found footage films I have seen in a while, there are things that could have been improved. The location, pacing, and authenticity were wonderful, but the acting could have been a bit better. Overall, this movie is definitely worth the watch.

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