WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY: Paul Solet
FEATURING: Jordan Ladd, Stephen Park, Gabrielle Rose, Serge Houde, Samantha Ferris, Kate Herriot GENRE: HORROR
TAGS: psychological thriller
RATING: 6 PINTS OF BLOOD
PLOT:Baby wants blood! And Mommy's in denial, in this derivative, but well-presented thriller.
COMMENTS: Remember all those "dead baby" jokes from junior high school? Well, here's the movie. Don't be fooled though. While Grace has a premise which if mishandled, could trigger an unintentional laughfest (see THE DEVIL WITHIN HER , with Joan Collins and Donald Pleasance), it's a serious movie and the filmmakers competently execute the concept.
And here it is: when a yuppie named Madeline (Jordan Ladd) miscarries following a car crash, she insists upon carrying the dead child to term anyway. Eventually, while shopping, Madeline's water breaks. Only it's not "water" at all, but a bucket of plasma, all over a white throw rug at Bed Bath And Beyond.
Time for delivery. There's a LOT more blood. When amniotic fluid is drained from the baby's mouth, it all comes out greyish black. Not a good sign! Uncanny and unresponsive, Madeline's stillborn baby is obviously dead.
Or is it merely UN-dead? It's as if Madeline wills it to life. When her midwife attempts to take the corpse from her, Madeline's baby begins to move. Days later Madeline is back home, a happy, normal mom doting on her now healthy-looking infant.
But all is not quite right. Baby's hair starts falling out. Flies develop an affinity for hanging out around the cradle. Baby smells bad! Even a bath can't get rid of the odor of -well of SOME thing. Something awful!
Nor, sadly can a bath rid GRACE of the musty scent of the highly derivative. We've seen this all before! (Among others, notably, IT'S ALIVE ; THE BROOD ; in the 1987 Vincent Price horror portmanteau, WHISPER TO A SCREAM, the story called "The Offspring." Then there's the one about a mother-to-be carrying carnivorous fetuses to term: THE UNBORN , not to mention the most well-remembered maternal angst flick since THE BAD SEED , ROSEMARY'S BABY .)
GRACE is sensibly assembled however, and to his credit, writer/director Paul Solet manages to get a novel spin on the well-worn convention. Derivative though it may be, GRACE doesn't feel so familiar that we can't enjoy the horror.
Intriguingly, with utter denial of the fact of a dead baby as the fulcrum of its turmoil, while featuring themes of disillusionment and family dysfunctionality, GRACE is superficially reminiscent of Sam Shepard's shocking, Pulitzer Prize-winning play, BURIED CHILD. In that allegorical work, conflict stems from a simultaneous demand and resistance to reveal an appalling, life altering truth.
In GRACE, which is merely a straight-forward fright-flick, the real horror arises not so much from the fact that Madeline's child is a monster, but from Madeline's compelling need, yet complete refusal, to acknowledge that fact and to be repelled by it. Madeline loses herself in a misguided, hellbound obsession to be a normal mother.
Even before the miscarriage, Madeline's soul seems nearly as charred as those of the family in BURIED CHILD. A closet lesbian in a loveless marriage, at extreme odds with her emotionally troubled, dominating in-laws, and with little use for her emasculated husband other than as a sperm donor, the unimpassioned, intellectually aimless Madeline is supremely empty inside. To substitute purpose for her spiritual destitution, Madeline fanatically clings to so rigorous a "green" lifestyle that she feeds her cat soy milk. The irony is that despite her strict vegan diet, Madeline's baby demands only blood for sustenance, and as its devoted nurturer, Madeline is driven to supply it.
For its gross ICK! factor, a few chills, decent acting, and a delightfully overall macabre atmosphere, I give Grace 6 pints of dairy fresh blood.