I hate it when I hear good buzz about a horror movie, then it never makes it to the mainstream circuit. Grace, Paranormal Activity (I am DYING to see this) and Trick ‘r Treat are recent examples. After making some festival noise last year, Grace was available on Netflix last Tuesday. I finally got to see what all the fuss was about.
This horror maven was a little queasy at the conclusion of this low budget horror movie about the ties that bind a mother and her baby. As indicated by the film’s poster, the baby in the story has some unique dietary restrictions, so to speak. First time mother Madeline (Jordan Ladd, quite good) has been taking fertility drugs for a few years, and is finally pregnant.
She is a vegan, drinks soy milk and has a waste compost container in her backyard. She decides to hire a midwife, much to her mother-in-law’s chagrin. A brush with preeclampsia lands her in the hospital, but she miraculously stabilizes. On the drive home from the hospital she and her husband are involved in a car wreck, which kills her husband and their unborn child.
Because this is a movie, she opts to carry the dead fetus for the remaining weeks and have the child naturally. Assisted by her midwife, she gives birth to the lifeless baby. A few moments later, the baby is very much alive, but clearly “special”. Flies like to gather around the baby’s crib, and mom Madeline can’t seem to shake the stench emanating from her offspring. Complicating matters further, the baby doesn’t care for breast milk.
Grace, you see, has a thing for Mommie’s blood. How far will Madeline go to feed and protect her baby? That’s the theme that is explored in this sick, twisted movie (You know I mean that most affectionately). A subplot involves the grieving mother-in-law plotting to take the baby from Madeline (She is unaware of Grace’s taste for blood), and going so far as to stimulate her own breasts to lactate. Ewwww. Grandma. Lactating.
This film pushes some serious boundaries. Babies in movies — particularly in horror movies — are typically off limits. To see the baby in this movie be so innocent yet so…I don’t know…sick, is really interesting and original. Taking some very natural acts (birth, breastfeeding) and perverting them with tension and dread is really shocking. In real life, newborns zap new moms of all their resources. This film just takes it one step further.
Madeline literally gives her flesh and blood to her baby. As a mother of two, I certainly know where that instinct to protect your baby at all cost comes from. So kudos to director Paul Solet for having the guts to go there.
There are definite signs of a low budget. The cinematography was grainy and bleak, and a few scenes were kind of hokey, but overall Grace is a chilling movie. For God’s sake, don’t see it if you are pregnant