A good film exploring the horrors of
motherhood that compares favorably with classics like ROSEMARYíS BABY,
BABY BLOOD and
INSIDE. It is a
little thin, however!
GRACE began life as 2006 short written and directed by
Paul Solet and starring Liza Weil and Brian Austin Green. This 2008
feature version came about largely due to
HATCHET director Adam Green, who had a
multi-picture deal with Anchor Bay Entertainment and chose GRACE as one
of those pictures.
The film ended up filmed in Saskatchewan, Canada, with
Jordan Ladd (of CABIN FEVER, GRINDHOUSE and many other films) in the
lead role. It premiered at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival, where it
reportedly caused a couple patrons to faint and garnered enthusiastic
reviews from seemingly everyone. I donít entirely agree with all the
praise, but it is a damn good movie for the most part.
Madeleine is eight months pregnant and opts for a
midwife to deliver her baby. Her choice is controversial, but before
much argument can be made a horrific car accident ends the life of
Madeleineís husband, and also the child within her.
Madeleine decides to deliver the dead fetus naturally.
She births the corpse, and in the process Madeleine somehow wills the
baby girl, who she names Grace, back to life.
This seems a good thing, but the child attracts flies.
Grace also has a bad habit of chewing on Madeleineís nipples and sucking
the blood. Madeleine tries to pacify Grace by draining the blood from
some raw steak, but it seems Grace only likes human blood.
Madeleine continues letting Grace drink her blood, but
then a unique opportunity presents itself in the form of a pesky social
worker hired by Madeleineís midwife to investigate her. Madeleine kills
the guy and drains his blood for the thirsty Grace to imbibe. But this
is easier said than done, and anyway, more people are on their way to
Madeleineís house as she works on the blood-draining. It seems another
murder is imminent, if not severalÖ
Whatís surprising about GRACE is how artfully crafted
it is. Itís everything a film like GRACE producer Adam Greenís HATCHET
isnít: quiet, subtle and character based, and buoyed by a terrifically
sympathetic lead performance by Jordan Ladd. Itís also quite gripping in
spots, particularly the intense stillbirth and suspenseful climax, which
makes excellent use of a bloody baby bottle and an intercom.
However, be advised the passing out that supposedly
occurred in the Sundance screening seems excessive--the film is simply
not especially shocking (my vote for the most off-putting
sequence is a mid-film sex scene between a middle aged couple--although
even that isnít shocking, just yucky). Paul Solet, in any event,
demonstrates admirable skill and confidence in this, his first feature.
In some ways itís one of the better genre debuts of recent years.
Of course the film, in common with most features
adapted from shorts, is quite thin. The narrative is disappointingly
scant and predictable, and ends on an unresolved note. GRACE, in other
words, is quite impressive in most respects, but just needsÖmore.
Indigomotion/Anchor Bay Entertainment
Director: Paul Solet
Producers: Ingo Vollkammer, Cory Neal, Adam Green, Kevin Dewalt
Screenplay: Paul Solet
Cinematography: Zoran Popovic
Editing: John Coniglio, Darrin Navarro
Cast: Jordan Ladd, Samantha Ferris, Gabrielle Rose, Stephen Park, Serge
Houde, Samantha Ferris, Kate Herriot, Tenai Cam Measmer, Annabel