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Lake Mungo Movie Review!

Lake Mungo Great Wall

Title: Lake Mungo

Director: Joel Anderson (If that is his real name!)

Country of Origin: Australia

Year of Release: 2008

Genre: Ghost Mystery, Tragedy

IMDB Link: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0816556/

‘Lake Mungo’ is not a typical ghost story. In most horror films, the ghost has long since died. This film focuses on the immediate tragedy and what is left behind.

A few lists and reviews on YouTube called it an underappreciated gem, prompting my roommate and I to watch it. I would say all of them show too much during their discussions. I heard about it a bit sooner, since I like to seek out highly acclaimed rarities.

Plot

We were thrown off at first by the mockumentary presentation of the film. We see very convincing interviews of the Palmer family (father Russell, mother June, son Mathew) about a year or so after a tragedy. This tragedy is the sudden drowning death of the daughter and sister, Alice. Her death is at first ruled accidental, but the family was never sure as she was very secretive. All of them have tried finding hobbies or glorified distractions, but to little use.

These interviews are cut with beautiful scenic shots of the town and surrounding area. I would say it kinda drags the film out, but also works to isolate and unsettle the viewer. We also see numerous photos and videos of the family from when Alice was still alive. Footage of the temporal present also has hidden creepiness for the attentive viewer.

Early on we meet a radio personality and parapsychologist by the name of Ray. He speaks often with June and records the sessions. June may have felt most affected due to the stunted relationship she had with her daughter. She was worried she never had a chance to tell Alice how she really felt. However, Ray may know more than he initially lets on.

Around the halfway point there is a segment what will make or break the film for you. To me, it almost killed the film and briefly destroyed the world it built. However, it gives eventual way to the ‘answer’ portion of the film. Like Higurashi, if you will. It is a tad sudden. I do want to provide a warning it leads to an uncomfortable scene involving Alice and an older man. Once you put the eyebleach away, the film becomes even more engrossing than before!

We are eventually, and finally, led to the titular location of Lake Mungo.

Lake Mungo Great Wall
All dried up (Image courtesy of Wikivoyage)

It is here we finally get the big scare that the movie has been leading up to. The film had been unsettling up to this point, but this scene gave me the biggest film scare of this year so far! It is scarier if you are up on your European folklore. It left me with a cold feeling that took me hours to shake off.

I will not give away the ending, but I will tell you how I felt afterward. This may be the first time I experienced true emptiness. The ending left me a husk of my former self. My roommate put on Markiplier’s ‘Try not to Laugh’ playlist, but it did not help at all. It took kittens, texting my friend, and the funnies to get back in a good mood. I think we even turned ALL of the lights on after we had them off. The closest thing to give me this feeling was the backstory episode of ‘Mushi-Shi.’

According to rumors this is Joel Anderson’s only film, save a few writing credits. My suspicion is his name could be a pseudonym. I really wish the crew makes another film.

Verdict

My final thoughts are, find this film and watch it! We actually managed to find a copy at our public library. Just… be ready for a feels trip and maybe some eyebleach. There is also one of the most effective scares I have seen in a long time! I used to not scare easily, but viewings from this year have been a treat!

There is a plethora of similar awesome films! I can also talk about a Japanese response to ‘The Blair Witch:’ Noroi: The Curse. There is also a Canadian made for tv Thanksgiving special, with aliens. I also want to talk about a certain two part movie.

I am hoping to write again soon. A lot of my time is going into job hunting, and remaking my more professional portfolio to aid in that hunt. I am also trying to get back to art, but my surroundings make it difficult to concentrate.

See you!

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The Moorchild – The Silliest Way I Got in Trouble in School

I wanted to get back into writing, and I wanted to see if I could do reviews or retrospectives.  Today I’m taking a look at a book from a long time ago, ‘The Moorchild.’

Eloise McGraw (December 1915-November 2000) published ‘The Moorchild’ in 1996 or 1997.  In 1997 it received the Newbery Honor, but lost the win to E. L. Konigsburg’s ‘The View from Saturday.’  ‘Moorchild’ had been out for a year or two by the time I read it in the fourth or fifth grade, 1998-2000.  What attracted me to it was its historical setting.  The European folklore and the characters kept me going.

When I read ‘Moorchild’ way back then the cover looked like such:

The original, and very 90s, cover of 'The Moorchild'
The original, and very 90s, cover of ‘The Moorchild’

 

The cover has been redone a few times and deservedly so.  I remember seeing that cover a few times in my home classroom.  One day I finally opened it up.

I remember the opening leaving me very confused.  ‘Moorchild’ either opened with Saaski, our lead, in a makeshift crib or in the realm of the Folk.  While Saaski is stuck in her crib she may flash back to her life before it.  I think we started with the Folk, and then she was suddenly with the humans in the next chapter.

I recall she was seen by a human, which was forbidden but also shouldn’t have happened.  The elders of the Folk were deciding what to do with her.  Their decision lead to her entering the care of a human couple.  Saaski’s parents suspect her of having colic (a word I learned thanks to the book) due to her constant screaming.  Her adoptive mother barely manages, and the father distances himself till later.

The story itself takes place many years later in her life.  Saaski is about ten or eleven, maybe twelve.  She plays on a flute or similar instrument out in the meadows.  Her hair is wild and untamable.  The feature I remember the most is her long fingers, which she could attempt to retract at the cost of them plumping.

From here I remember a small scattering of scenes.  Her grandmother watching over her whilst collecting wood.  Meeting a boy who finds her fascinating instead of weird.  A scene I remembered well, but I haven’t found any quick research to back it, is a bee scene.  I forget if they were collecting honey, or just encountered a hive, but it involves Saaski and her father.  What intrigued me the most was Saaski’s quick thinking with a bucket in her possession.  She banged on the bottom of it to produce sounds like thunder.  It made the bees passive again, or hide for fear of an oncoming storm.

However, Saaski’s time with her village isn’t permanent.  Her Folk half begins to awaken again, and it finally brings the villagers to some alarming actions.  She has to make a choice, and right something she indirectly caused.  I don’t know how far I can get into it without entering spoiler territory.

Now we get to how I got into trouble in class.  I was shook by Saaski’s emotional turmoil during the last chapters of the book.  I literally could not put the book down.  Which became a problem because I think I couldn’t take it home.

So there I was, in social studies class, reading during a lecture.  I barely registered the teacher telling a nearby student to take the book from me.  After a deserved ‘how rude!’ class continued.  Fewer times in my life would I be more embarrassed.  I got the book back later, along with a secondary lecture.

I’m happy to see you reading, but there’s a time and place for that!

Afterward there would be other books I would zip through during recess, or even in a light day before Christmas.  If I can find them again I’ll be sure to talk about them!

Final thoughts:

‘The Moorchild’ blew my mind as a kid.  I never felt emotion reading a book before that.  I hadn’t read anything like it before or since and I think it made an impact on my writing style and artistic choices.

I want to read it again as an adult to see if anything new pops out at me.

If you’ve been watching ‘The Ancient Magus’ Bride’ there is some relative lore here, but not much.  It’s not exact but watching the anime made me remember this book.  I think it is because of the involvement of the Fairies.  There is also a reminiscent theme of belonging and identity.

Interested in reading it yourself?  It’s available on Amazon!

Did you read ‘The Moorchild?’  Like this review?  Anything I can work on or look into for the future?  Let me know!

References:

“The Moorchild.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 22 Nov. 2017. Web. 13 April 2018. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Moorchild

Artist currently unknown. ‘The Moorchild’ Original Edition Cover. Image used by Source, Fair Use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=31474248