Written by: Matt Molgaard
Directed by: Paul Solet
Cast: Jordan Ladd, Samantha Ferris, Gabrielle Rose
In a genre flooded by outlandish, disconnected and often unnecessarily comedic pictures, Grace acts as a definitive reminder that good old fashion, straightforward storytelling can still be frightening and unbelievably unsettling. Like other films of similar nature (such as the highly acclaimed 2007 Dimension Extreme gem Inside), Grace is a stomach turning and completely disheartening look at the life of a mother torn apart both physically and mentally by an unbridled need to protect her child. But it’s the specifics of the harrowing tale – or the baby in general – that separate this one from the vast majority of other mother-protects-child flicks.
A car collision all but destroys Michael (Stephen Park), and Madeline Matheson’s life when they learn that Grace, their unborn child has died in the womb. Existence becomes a world of darkness and depression. Extremely distraught and completely irrational, Madeline insists upon carrying Grace full term, dead or alive. Upon giving birth to the lifeless Grace, something remarkably strange occurs: Grace mysteriously… reanimates, life flickering in Madeline’s arms. But this is no miracle. And if it is, it’s the kind no sane individual ever wishes for.
Madeline immediately discovers (in painful fashion) that Grace bears some unusual habits for a newborn. For starters, she fancies the taste of blood. She’s also burdened by a deathly odor, and hounded by an abundance of hovering flies. It’s not too challenging to begin forming a rational theory as to what the hell is wrong with Grace. Madeline seems to put the pieces together for herself as well, but desperation and loneliness have left her traveling a fractured train of thought. This is the worst case of post-partum depression conceivable, if that’s what this even is. Rather than doing the right thing (I guess she already blew that when she decided to carry her lifeless fetus full term) and contacting physicians to see that Grace receives rightful care, Madeline caters to Grace’s unorthodox eating requirements. Go ahead and assume that this is an extremely unsafe practice, and while you’re at it, assume the results of such behavior are life threatening to all parties involved.
While Madeline’s health spirals out of control, Michael’s mother Vivian (Gabrielle Rose), who’s been an intrusive bitch (for lack of a better term) throughout the course of Michael and Madeline’s marriage attempts take custody of the child, whom Madeline has prevented her from seeing (with good reason) ever since birth. There’s no chance Madeline is about to let Vivian, or anyone else for that matter, take Grace anywhere. Those who attempt to separate the two face a rash, homicidal mother, and a likely trip into premature afterlife. But no worries, those bodies won’t go to waste, little Grace is always hungry.
Grace was one of the biggest surprises to be released in 2009. I picked up the film anticipating an eerie drama with a slight Basket Case twist. I got so, so much more – which says a lot considering how highly I think of Basket Case (don’t judge me). The truth is this picture is one of the more haunting character driven films I’ve seen in the last decade. The connection between Madeline and her child is executed with brilliance; Paul Solet (who did an incredible job of writing and directing the picture) crafts a near-flawless script (of course some suspension of disbelief is required here, as should be expected when dealing with vampire babies), and guide’s the incredibly underrated Jordan Ladd through a believable and revolting journey of motherhood. Some of the visuals, though fairly tame, are conclusively chilling and powerful enough to resonate in viewers’ minds long after watching the movie.
If you’re looking to invest an hour and a half in anything horror, make it Grace. It’s frightening; it’s saddening; it’s absolutely disgusting; it‘s just so many things die hard horror hounds crave daily. If you’re anything like me, it’s also likely to make the thought of a glass of milk downright nauseating.
Damn you Paul Solet – I once loved milk… even worse I cannot look at my wife breast-feeding our boy now!