Vol. 2, No. 1: "Drop Shot Valley" photo

The Lake Placid Ice Dancing Championships as Arthouse Horror TrailerKarina Manta

A black screen is accompanied by the drawn-out violin notes of a tango. The first camera shot pans across the red seats of the arena.  They are empty except for a few judges who are sitting up high and scribbling in notepads. A practice session is taking place. A half dozen teams move at top speed, arching their necks and flicking their legs to the tango’s accents. Their blades catch the light. The camera zooms in on a teenage Florence Pugh and Lucas Hedges. Their exhales release visibly in the cold air. Florence twizzles into Lucas’ arms. As she tosses herself into a dip, the golden hoop of her earring catches on a button of Lucas’ shirt, and her earlobe tears open. The camera angles toward the ice. A bright dot of blood splashes the surface. The tango music fades.


The camera cuts to a picturesque scene outside the arena: a town caressing a lake’s edge. A wide shot captures the same group of teenage skaters, but they are now walking along main street and wearing tank tops and shorts as though they are vacationers. The oldest boy pops into a convenience store. Another boy takes off his shirt, runs toward the water. A teenage Anya Taylor-Joy steps closer to Florence.  Her cupid’s bow looks how it always looks—perfect—like twin crescent moons. She tucks a wisp of hair behind Florence’s ear and reveals a tiny row of stitches.

“Are you okay?”

“Yeah. You know how it is. This stuff happens.” Florence shrugs.

A bell chimes, and the convenience store door opens again. The oldest boy walks out, carrying a case of beer and a gallon of soap. The other boys cheer. Florence rolls her eyes.

The next morning, the fountain outside the arena overflows with soap bubbles: a summer snowdrift.


Florence and Lucas jog up and down the narrow hallways of the arena. Their coach walks by and pulls Lucas aside. The conversation is muffled, but from the way they both glance over, Florence knows Lucas and the coach are talking about her.


The tango music returns. Florence paces in her hotel room, speaking on the phone with her mom.

“It’s just a lot of pressure,” she says. Her voice cracks.

She notices movement outside and steps toward the window. A judge stands inches away from the glass, staring into her room.


Florence sits alone in the locker room. A florescent light buzzes overhead. When Florence removes her headphones, she hears a noise coming from a bathroom stall. The noise is someone vomiting into the toilet over and over.


Anya’s manicured nails help Florence into her costume. She pulls a zipper surrounded by rhinestones. Anya places a warm hand over Florence’s goosebumps.

“It’s freezing in here. You’d never know that it’s summer outside,” Anya whispers into Florence’s ear, allowing her lips to brush along the stitches.


The tango’s violin notes corkscrew into each other. Something in the melody sours. The camera cuts to a shot of the fountain outside the arena. Its liquid flows bloodred. The camera cuts to a shot of all nine judges lined up in the stands turning to stare directly at Florence. The camera cuts to a shot of the girls kneeling in a circle on the floor of the locker room as they carefully wipe down the edges of their blades. The camera cuts to a close-up shot of Anya twisting a tube of red lipstick. The camera cuts to a shot of Florence styling her hair in front of a mirror. Her reflection takes its hand and calmly grips the hot metal of a curling iron. Her reflection doesn’t flinch. The camera cuts to a nighttime shot of Florence in full make-up. She is wearing her costume. Her skates are laced up. She walks into the lake. The ripples catch moonlight.


The tango music stops.

The announcer tells Florence and Lucas to take the ice. The camera cuts to the pair. They arrange themselves into their starting pose at center ice.

The camera cuts out.