I haven’t been frightened by horror movies in a long time. I was following the forum’s horror movie recommendations thread and came upon a few people recommending a film I’d strangely never heard of: Lake Mungo. It’s a fake documentary about a ghost story, dealing largely in retrospective interviews with those involved. I watched it with my partner, who around the halfway point informed he they were pretty bored, and as I sort of agreed (though my attitude about finishing movies I start is different), we stopped it. The interview subjects are extremely realistic in their monotonous recollections, which added to the setting while simultaneously detracting from the time spent learning from these segments.
I went and read about what happens afterwards, and it’s pretty fucked up. However, I didn’t WATCH the rest of the movie - you see, I didn’t need to. Something about the realism of the beginning was enough to paint an extremely vivid picture of what happens at the end. Visions of the turn from that film’s ending haunted me when I would turn out the lights in my apartment. I felt the tingling anxiety on my back as I exited darkened rooms more quickly than necessary. It stuck with me for weeks. I’m certain the presentation of the film alone is what made it so effective: these normal people, moving on with their lives after a terrible, unexplained event, still understandably baffled but also disinterested in exploring the subject any further.
Give this story to James Wan and I’m sure I would have enjoyed the movie, but I am also sure I wouldn’t have been frightened by it.