Lake Mungo (2008) directed by Joel Anderson
The lowest key horror movie I think I've ever watched. Like, Picnic at Hanging Rock low key. Mix in some Blair Witch "this is real, look at this camcorder footage!" with "Laura Palmer is filled with secrets" into a documentary format and you've got this film.
I found it very difficult to get over the conceit that every camcorder in this movie records with the fidelity of a 12th generation bootleg of the Star Wars Holiday Special. Supposedly set in 2005 and 2006, all of camcorder video footage is unbelievably blurry and full of VHS-like jumps and tracking errors. I understand this is a technique to make the ghost sightings on the tape spookier -- the harder they are to see, the scarier they become due to our minds filling in the missing parts -- but it just doesn't match the era. Had they set the movie ten years in the past instead of two or three, I would've bought it. Although, they wouldn't have been able to use the cellphone videos, whose distortions due to compression do make sense in the movie.
I gather this is suppose to be more of an examination of grief than a scare movie. But, I think the documentary format sort of sucked the emotion out of things. Rather than seeing the family grieve naturally, we're watching them composed and calm for a documentary shoot several years after the fact. Though they say they miss their daughter/sister, they don't really show this during their screen time outside of a few, minor instances.
Still, it was an interesting experience. It absolutely helped that I had no idea what it was about -- I always watch the Horrorfest movies blind -- so that I was kept guessing as to where they were going with this. (6/10)