Directed By: Harrison Atkins
Genre : Comedy
Synopsis: A woman develops a mysterious illness after meeting a strange figure in a friend’s coach house.
Overview: Lace Crater is a weird little film. It views like something a friend has made, and because of that, it seems like your friends are in it. A standard group of mid to late 20-somethings are headed to The Hamptons for the weekend. Someone’s parents have a place there and they’re just going to chill out and do some molly, drink some Pabst, and maybe get laid. Where some horror movies point to drugs as the axis for trouble, this group has it all safely under control. After dosing in the hot tub, the screen becomes a mash of quiet, thoughtful conversations and stroking limbs overlapping, each character’s inebriation dissolving the facade of propriety and being fine. They talk how your friends talk, listen to your music, and stumble through the same inane conversations about life the way characters in any good mumblecore would. For a while, it seems like you’re just hanging out too, and in that way it’s charming enough.
As sleeping arrangements are being decided, Ruth (Lindsay Burdge) chooses the coach house even though it “might be haunted.” Horror fans will recognize Burdge as that mysteriously creepy girl who just happens to live with the hosts from last year’s dinner party hit The Invitation. It seems she has a gift for being mysterious and dark, as Ruth is a character shrouded in question marks. She has enough unmentioned ghosts in her past to be okay with the one that might be living in the coach house, and she faces it with no fear. In fact, she yells into the darkness, “Why don’t you come out here and hang out like a real person?” Imagine her drunken surprise when it does. Imagine your drunken surprise when you see what happens next.
Shortly after Ruth’s rendezvous in the Hamptons, she begins to notice strange changes in her body. Here’s where the movie starts to take a venereal body horror tilt with vague hallucinations, missing time, and gross effects. Ruth isn’t too worried at first, favouring bong rips and mindlessly controlling the lives of her Sims (who all look suspiciously like her best friend) over self care. Burdge plays the part almost too well, with her nervous laughter punctuating most sentences and her concealing lies made believable. Watching her helplessly descend into her illness is as fascinating as it is disgusting.
Beneath all of the horror elements, Lace Crater is a very human film. At times it’s a little bit funny, and at other times it’s profoundly sad. The narrative is crooked with paths that lead nowhere, and there’s way more to it than initially meets the eye. Director Harrison Atkins employs jarring effects to show what is bending Ruth’s mind while maintaining a realistic troupe of characters around her. In the end, it manages to confront its own shortcomings in a clever way. It certainly doesn’t hit every mark, but it’s still a pleasure to watch and its deft portrayal of a hopelessly confused mind will move some viewers.
Featured Image: Invincible Pictures