Feature Thirller/Soft Fantasy
A young girl, Liza, and her mother escape her abusive father and find shelter with the caretaker of a garden, whom Liza believes is the gatekeeper to Shangri-La.
While on the run from her abusive father, Liza and her mother Clara jump from house to house. Finally, they find refuge with the caretaker of a garden, but not is as it seems. A shadow figure plagues Liza and the garden, and takes an interest in a mysterious moon gate that somehow shows the reflection of another world. With their demons not far behind them Liza frantically searches for a safe-haven that can save her family.
Pan's Labyrinth ... Meets ... The Florida Project
Lacuna is a soft fantasy that's based off my true life story. I was seven years old when my life was turned upside down and my mother and I made off with three small suitcases, two for our clothes, and one for all my stuffed animals. We spent eleven months jumping between guest rooms, dingy motels, cots in a hoarder’s home, and the real-life nightmare of a great aunt’s house covered wall to wall in cuckoo clocks. (That house was also haunted, but that’s an entirely different movie.) My mother, Teresa, coined the saying “It’ll be an adventure.” This became our motto in life and guided us through not just the abuse we had experienced, but also when she became sick with a severe neurological disease when I was a teenager.
I would like to say that there was magic in those early memories of my life. That it wasn’t as bad it seemed, or most importantly that we eventually found our own sanctuary in a garden like Shangri-La. Unfortunately, happy endings like that don’t make for the kinds of stories that move us to our core. The reality is much darker. There are disturbing moments in this film, horror tropes to build tension and terror that all seem like a way to make this script more dramatic. However, these moments are real or based of reality that provide glimpses into what we experienced.
I chose the title Lacuna because it means the gap or missing piece of a story. The mind does incredible fascinating things to protect itself. I was ten when the memories of my abuse started to reappear. I would spend the next 15 years battling the demons my father bestowed upon me. You don’t recover from a life like that by finding a happy ending. You heal through years of work, facing the worst parts of your soul and eventually confronting my abuser 17 years after he walked out of my life. I always say the greatest gift my father gave me was to completely destroy me. There is so much power in discovering and knowing the broken pieces of yourself and being able to decide exactly who you want to be when you put those pieces back together. I would often build fantasy worlds in my head where I escaped to play the role of the hero when I couldn’t be that in my own life. I found my happiness and safety in these worlds just as young Liza does in the mythology of Shangri-La.
My wish is that whoever decides to bring this script to life knows the value of the truth that lies within it. It’s a glimpse into a life very few even know about or can come close to understanding, yet none the less this story is not exclusive to me. There are so many bearing the weight of this type of life. I hope that this story will encourage us to be more open and compassionate to those in need, or at the very least welcome you into the mind as a creative and curious young girl trying to survive the unimaginable.