Mumblecore films aren’t something I usually go out of my way to see, as they tend to be hit or miss, but the premise for Lace Crater made me very curious to see it. The film enjoyed it’s world premiere at TIFF 2015, and deals with a sexual transmitted disease passed on by a ghost to a young woman named Ruth.
If that plot sounds kind of familiar, it may be because it’s similar to It Follows, which had its North American premiere at last year’s TIFF. But where It Follows was a straight horror film, Lace Crater takes on a more post-ironic type feel, so while similarities will be drawn, I don’t think they’re quite fair.
Describing the tone is really difficult, because it’s at times a comedy, sometimes a drama, sometimes a horror, and sometimes incredibly sweet. The tonal shifts are really hard to get used to, and don’t necessarily mesh all that well. There are parts in the film where I laughed, and then wondered to myself if I was supposed to laugh at that particular scene.
And yet, for all of it’s flaws, I enjoyed this film from first time director Harrison Atkins. The performances and relationships felt real, even those between the ghost Michael and heroine Ruth, despite the former wearing a full-body burlap suit. The comedy is funny and the tension palpable, as the scenes themselves are wonderfully directed.
The most interesting part of the film is that the ghost is the least malicious presence in the film. In fact, it’s the world around Ruth that begins to alienate her, creating tension and conflict. The worst monsters in the world aren’t the dead; they are us as we judge and alienate that which is different.
It’s a lot to take on, and Atkins bites off a bit more than he can chew. Despite the unevenness of the film’s tone, you have to admire him for his ambition.
3.5 out of 5 stars.
Here’s the official synopsis, and trailer below that:
All Ruth wanted was to get away for the weekend. Escaping to the Hamptons with friends after a bad breakup, she finds an unexpected connection with Michael, a stranger who shows up in her room one boozy night. They have great chemistry, and she finds herself inexplicably drawn to him. There’s only one problem: Michael’s a ghost, and a one night stand with him leaves Ruth with aftereffects that can only be described as supernatural. As she suffers through mucous-laden night sweats, glitchy hallucinations, and the occasional tar-black ooze, her friends become too disgusted to support her. Ruth must figure out for herself if she can reintegrate into society - or if she even wants to.