Horror fans know that in their search for new and exciting horror films, they will encounter more bad than good. Weeding through the seemingly endless supply of direct-to-DVD horror films to find something that will deliver chills can be a full time job. At first glance, Grace could seem like another one of those direct to DVD horror films that will likely end up either in a $5 bin at Wal-Mart or forgotten altogether. But Grace has got some real staying power, thanks to the creative story by writer/director, newcomer Paul Solet.
After two unsuccessful attempts, Michael and Madeline Matheson are expecting their first child. They are the typical suburban couple glowing with anticipation of their beloved firstborn, with a nice home, a nice car, and overbearing in-laws. Madeline is a vegetarian and wants her baby to come into the world in a peaceful environment and is opposed to hospitals, much to the chagrin of her mother-in-law Vivian (Gabrielle Rose, Jennifer’s Body). When Madeline suddenly experiences chest pains at dinner one night, Michael panics and rushes her to a hospital where the doctors misdiagnose her and want to perform an emergency cesarean. Madeline persists and begs for her newly appointed midwife Patricia (Samantha Ferris, TV’s Supernatural) to come to her aid. Patricia comes, fends off the doctors and sends the shaken couple home.
Just when Michael and Madeline are feeling at ease, they get into a car accident on the way home from the hospital which leaves Michael and the unborn baby dead. Madeline is devastated, but wants to carry the baby to term and deliver the baby naturally – another three weeks.
Madeline goes into labor and delivers the baby with Patricia’s assistance. The baby, as expected, is stillborn, but Madeline still wants to hold her precious child. During this crucial mother/baby bonding time, a miracle happens and the baby comes to life and Madeline fittingly names her Grace. But this baby is unlike any other. Instead of her mother’s milk, this baby craves blood.
The bad baby horror film has never been done quite like this before. This is a hybrid vampire/zombie baby but we never see it in an evil-looking form. This baby looks as harmless and cute as any other baby. Only this one only drinks blood and emits an odor so foul that flies congregate in her room.
Grace is a slow-building psychological thriller that chooses to really screw with your mind instead of throwing out jumpy scares. It examines the bond between a mother and her child and the great lengths she will go to in order to provide for her baby. It also examines this bond in the form of Madeline’s mother-in-law Vivian, who desperately wants to feel that mother/baby bond again and will do anything to relive that experience.
Even though the scariest parts of the movie are the psychological ones created by the characters, that doesn’t mean there’s not any blood. Once the blood does start flowing, it gets everywhere and almost never stops. There are also plenty of disturbing images to get burned into your brain, including old people having sex and mutilated boobs.
Grace made quite the impression on the festival circuit. During the first screening at Sundance, two men actually fainted. Really. This gave the film the tagline it needed to really take off, and buzz about the film has been growing within the horror community ever since. This being the month of October, horror fans are going to be trying to find something new and different to watch to get them in the Halloween spirit. Grace is a perfect film to do just that.
My biggest complaint with this Blu-Ray release is the sound quality. The dialogue was so difficult to hear that I had to crank the volume all the way up, which made for some static and loud background noise. The picture quality is perfect though, at a 2.35:1 aspect ratio, and adds to the creepy tone of the film.
Grace at Sundance – This is the first in a series of Behind the Scenes features, and shows Solet’s experience at Sundance. It shows him speaking before the screening, and the interviews after the screening with the people who fainted. It also shows Solet’s relentless marketing of the film – he walked around the festival with a bloody baby doll in a baby carrier. Awesome. 13:11
Grace: Conception – Solet wrote Grace and made a short film to show at horror conventions in the hopes to get the money to make it into a feature film. Looks like that strategy worked. 6:46
Grace: Delivered – This is just a conglomeration of behind the scenes during various days of filming. Specifically, it shows one of the death scenes, which is cool. And it also shows shooting with the actual baby, which was cool. The baby’s parents were very much involved and excited about the project. This also shows them wrapping the film. This feature is rather long and boring at times, but overall interesting. 37:03
Grace: Family – This talks about the characters, specifically how every character wants what they can’t have, which was interesting. 11:58
Her Mother’s Eyes – The Look of Grace – I thought this was going to be about production design and another behind the scenes, but instead, it’s about how Solet wrote a 200-page manifesto about the character’s backgrounds complete with photos and sketches. His passion for the project really is inspiring. 7:03
Lullaby: Scoring Grace – This featurette shows how composer Austin Wintory wrote the score. He actually went to the set and recorded sounds from the house – creaking floorboards, etc – and used those sounds to create the score. He also composed a simple lullaby for Madeline to sing to Grace, and incorporated that melody throughout the score. 8:55
Even with the frustrations that I encountered with the sound, Grace is a solid Blu-Ray release with fascinating extras. With the passion and commitment to this project, Paul Solet has created a fine film to launch his career. This is a film that will definitely stick with you for weeks to come. Grace comes highly recommended.
Starz/Anchor Bay presents Grace. Directed by: Paul Solet. Starring: Jordan Ladd, Samantha Ferris, Stephen Park, Gabrielle Rose. Written by: Paul Solet. Running time: 84 minutes Rating: R. Released on DVD: September 15, 2009. <Available at Amazon.com