Racculia (This Must Be the Place, 2010) delivers an experience worth rhapsodizing about as a group of teenagers and their adult chaperones descend upon a hotel in the Catskills for a statewide music festival.
The once-elegant Bellweather Hotel has seen better days, but the staff does its best to keep up appearances as they roll out the somewhat threadbare red carpet for the best high school musicians in New York State. It’s 1997, and 15 years ago, a grisly murder-suicide occurred in Room 712—the room now assigned to Jill, a child prodigy whose mother is the festival’s acting director, and Alice, a seemingly arrogant choral student. Alice’s bassoonist twin, Rabbit, is also among the attendees, and he’s hopeful the next few days will yield opportunities for a bit of adventure and some honest disclosure. Alice has always been the dominant sibling, but their relationship undergoes a not-so-subtle change within hours of their arrival. Introverted Rabbit inadvertently becomes a hero among his peers when he stands up to their derisive conductor, a Scotsman who’s a few fingers short of a full hand and whose interest in the twins’ angry, gun-toting chaperone strengthens as the two discover similarities. Alice is bewildered by Rabbit’s quick rise to popularity, and her feelings of abandonment increase when she finds Jill’s lifeless body hanging from an orange extension cord. Although authorities investigate, they can't find a corpse, and Jill’s mother claims she’s merely hiding somewhere in the hotel. Her disappearance provides fodder for the teenage rumor mill, but life goes on: Rehearsals continue while angst-ridden teens and adults, all with hidden secrets, are swept up in a crescendo of memories and emotions.
Racculia’s droll wit and keen understanding of human nature propel a story that’s rich in distinctive characters and wholly engaging. A gem.