Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Yucky Movies of October: Grace

26) Grace

Subtle, creepy, and nauseating, Grace is a monsterous, undead (zombie?) flip-side of It's Alive.

Madeline Matheson has a history of difficult, unsuccessful pregnancies and decides she's not going to let the in-utero death of number three stop her from being a good mom. She loses the baby in a car crash that kills her husband (an alternate universe slips off here with the movie Inside) and in her pain she decides to carry to baby she lost to term. Even though the midwife says you can't will a baby back to life... well, she kinda does.

From there things get a little creepy and maddening. Sure, this mom only seems to watch shows about slaughterhouses and bloodclots on TV. (I shudder to think the TV I watch is as heavy-handed and thematic as what she does - that wouldn't bode well for me at all.) The baby's hair is coming out and she's showing bruising... and sure, there's a few flies in the babies room. But that doesn't mean there's anything wrong... hmm, except that you're feeding the baby blood...

Why doesn't the baby have that "new baby" smell?

Samantha Ferris (the obsessive Midwife who's obviously leaving her implied girlfriend because the chick can't act) and Jordan Ladd (Madeline) turn out to both be excellent actresses, and the direction is such that the birthing scene will have you tearing up. Ladd is much more nuanced and given more to work with that Bijou Phillips was in It's Alive. Some of the revelations are the same, but they unfold here at a measured pace that makes it the creepier of the two. Seeing an actual baby with (fake) blood on it's chin is more disturbing than the CGI creature in the It's Alive remake(or the papier mache babies in the original).

The counter-story with the Mother-in-Law having trouble dealing with the loss of her son by deciding to essentially "snatch" her granddaughter makes for fascinating but equally unsettling viewing. Nice to see an older woman acting out in a movie though, it's terribly rare. Gabrielle Rose has guts, that's for sure. It's kind of a cheat in both the A & B story as they seem to be asking because that's kind of a moot question. Of course, people would do these things, go around these bends. We'd like to think we wouldn't be "How far would a mother go for her child?" but we would go to these lengths, around these bends. People would love to think they wouldn't, but we would be this crazy. It only adds to the creepy. I question if any grandmother would go as far as she does. Trying to get the law on her side to get the baby I can see, but trying to induce lactation seems a bit of a stretch.

I think my favorite bit is that Madeline has to wear sweatshirts and shivers because she's running the air conditioning in the house at full blast. When the baby is cold she keeps better? It's a creepy touch when you process it. The very end goes a little off the rails, I think. I'm not a fan of codas that leave the mail location the story has taken place at for a two minute button on the proceedings. There's a lot of padding around some excellent moments in this film, but everything ends on a perfectly dark note.

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