in Review, Shocktober

Grace (2009)

I don’t feel great about giving a so-so star rating. I’m a fan of Adam Green’s ArieScope Pictures the independent studio behind cult classics like Frozen (the ski lift one, not that snowman one) and the Victor Crowley series. Adam Green’s podcast “The Movie Crypt” is my favorite podcast and one I would recommend to fans of the genre or aspiring filmmakers. Of course being a fan means checking out other projects from the studio. Grace is a 2009 horror/drama written and directed by Paul Solet, Produced by Adam Green and released through ArieScope. The film details a mother, Madeline Matheson (Jordan Ladd), whose child dies in the womb. Yet she takes it to term, it’s born and it wants to suck blood. There that’s the whole movie. Goodnight everybody.

I like the idea that a baby believed to be dead is born anyways and becomes a zombie/vampire baby. What made the film tough to watch was pacing. I couldn’t believe after I finished Grace that the film was only 84 minutes. It feels 20 minutes longer than that. The film is minimalist using few locations and effects and lingers on scenes to create a sense of unease and tension. This works sometimes other times I was bored. The acting is solid, and I give kudos to the female-dominated cast, but there’s not enough vampire-baby action to hold my interest.

If you’re wondering if the baby leaps around going for the jugular I can tell you Grace is not that kind of movie. The film is subtle and grounded. I’m sure a good part of this is to account for the low budget, which I don’t mind. I usually appreciate the less is more mantra but I couldn’t help but crave more blood. Larry Cohen’s 1974 horror flick It’s Alive does a good job of making a scary baby hold your attention without much in terms of effects. Grace seems hesitant to try anything too complicated or elaborate. I mean I get it, filmmaking is fucking hard but I’d rather see a film push through boundaries and fail than play it safe. That being said I will give a shout out to the film’s final makeup effect which is awesomely disturbing.

Grace is a competent looking film. Though there’s a visual quality I can’t put my finger on that makes it feel like a film from the late 90s or early 2000s. I would describe Grace as like a Lifetime Original Movie from Hell. It has all the melodrama of a Lifetime Movie with just the right amount of vampire baby to set it apart. Just the fact that this movie has made it this far in the horror community and that so many fans know about it and appreciate it is quite an accomplishment. My final decision to see it was actually when I saw it on “The 50 Scariest Movies You’ve Never Seen” on Amazon Prime. So it indeed has its following.

Though I don’t like picking away at a film from one of my favorite Horror studios I am glad I watched Grace. If anything I found it inspiring. Writer/Director Paul Solet made a short of this film and then worked his ass off to turn it into a feature. He did so much with little else but the support of friends and close collaborators. Grace is an impressive accomplishment and at least gave me one good scare at the end. And when it’s all said and done, isn’t that all any of us want… one good scare?