While I’m a huge horror fan, I also love cringe comedy. Lace Crater delivers on both fronts, in what might be a new sub-genre called Paranormal Cringe. It’s a film that will make you want to look away not only in the gross parts but the social train wreck situations as well.
Lace Crater is the story of Ruth, played by Lindsay Burge, who escapes from NYC for the weekend to her friend’s family house in the Hamptons. After a booze and ecstasy-fueled evening, Ruth retreats to the guest house, which has been rumored to be haunted. When she jokingly taunts the ghost to present himself, he obliges, and the two share a very human and vulnerable conversation. This connection culminates in a ghostly sexual encounter that leaves Ruth with devastating physical symptoms in the following days.
While Lace Crater is at its core a paranormal horror story, it’s very much a dark comedy as well. The comedy is not overt in the story but rather delivered in subtle undertones through awkward dialogue, millennial selfishness, and the utter absurdity of banging a ghost. I laughed aloud at many parts of this film, including the unusually casual introduction of the ghost, and when Ruth Googles “STD SEX WITH GHOST.”
Writer-director Harrison Atkins did a great job creating a unique film that carefully blends the horror and social discomfort. He also perfectly captures the post-one-night-stand ickiness that Ruth displays. Composer Alan Palomo also deserves praise for composing a synthesizer-heavy score that dances between quirky, mysterious, and dreadful.
Lace Crater succeeds in grossing you out and making you feel uncomfortable, but there are some very sweet, human moments too. As the conclusion with Ruth nears, the ghost shares a brutally honest philosophy for dealing with the complexities of undeserved misfortune in life. It makes you want to hug them both.
My only criticism is Lace Crater seemed a bit too short. At a brisk 83 minutes long, I felt it could have been developed a little more, especially creating something super horrific with the late-introduction of Ruth’s douchebag ex-boyfriend. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that there’s a director’s cut with more footage that has yet to be released.
Lace Crater won’t be for everyone. If you hate cringe-inducing dialogue and movies that don’t have a pretty bow tied on them in the end that wraps up every loose end, you probably won’t enjoy this film. But if you’re like me, and you love horror as well as awkward dark comedy, you need to add this to your To-Watch list.
Lace Crater is currently available for free as part of your Shudder subscription. And for you lost souls out there who don’t currently subscribe to Shudder, you can rent Lace Crater through Amazon streaming services.