In this grown-up version of a teenage summer-camp horror movie, a twentysomething woman named Ruth hooks up with a ghost on a drug-filled Hamptons weekend. The debut feature-length effort of writer and director Harrison Atkins, Lace Crater is designed to make you squirm instead of scream; to call it trippy would be a gross understatement.
The horror genre this film borrows from is softened somewhat by its self-conscious quirk. Light moments of comedy — we watch over Ruth’s shoulder as she Googles “STD sex with ghost” to figure out why she can peel off her skin post-paranormal coitus — parallel disturbing scenes full of leaking black goo and hallucinations.
Precise sound editing perfectly creates an underlying unease, allowing the music to shine, and thank goodness for that: The film is brilliantly scored by Alan Palomo, Neon Indian’s frontman and also the headliner of the upcoming Phuzz Phest. His threatening, space-age bass with primordial clangs and metallic synths reflect the nightmarish dissonance happening inside of Ruth’s body.
And though Lindsay Burdge does a masterful job as the infected leading lady, the best performance is by Peter Vack as melancholy poltergeist Michael; ironically, the most human moment in the film may be when Ruth touches his cheek and he shudders with delight.
Lace Crater screens on April 13 at 7:30 p.m. at A/perture 2 and April 15 at 10 p.m. at Hanesbrands Theatre. Actor Andrew Ryder and producer Adam Kritzer will attend the April 13 screening, co-presented by Phuzz Phest as a direct nod to headliner Neon Indian’s film score.
— Joanna Rutter