Grace (2009)

Directed By: Paul Solet
Written By: Paul Solet
Starring: Jordan Ladd
  Stephen Park
  Gabrielle Rose
  Serge Houde

On hearing a few key details about this movie, you can’t help but imagine a low budget gore romp: Former lesbian’s new born baby craves blood, while baby’s grandmother lactates and obsesses over having another child. Grace could, most definitely, not be described as a romp of any kind. Grace is essentially a suspense thriller with a vampire kid aspect chucked in to give it some ‘oomph‘.

As a debut feature, Grace looks pretty incredible. Paul Solet is clearly a director with an incredible eye. There were shots in this movie that I would say were akin to Fincher or Aranofsky. Plus the first forty five minutes are as tense as it gets. Its all that much tenser due to the fact that you know what is coming; it is all a case of when it will come. I read in places that people believe the effects were poor, but I’m not entirely sure these people were watching the same movie. Solet uses mostly practical effects to great avail, loads of fake blood applied lovingly with some wince-inducing body horror. I can’t be the only person who flinches every time I see blood that is coming from a lady part, can I?

The plot is pretty standard, but is told in such a visually interesting way you can almost forgive the sheer obviousness of it. That is until around the hour mark, the film has spent so long building itself up to this amazing crescendo of bloody murder, which arrives with a fizzle rather than a bang. I felt totally cheated when the lacklustre big finish came around. I’m not sure if Solet was going for an understated approach, if he was I believe that it was a mistake. He totally betrays the sheer gutsy atmosphere of the preceding hour. You can feel that it is leading somewhere big throughout the movie, just for you to end up disappointed and craving some blood of your own.

There is a certain sexuality at work in Grace, that works alongside the horror. Seeing Gabrielle Rose’s recently bereaved grandmother massage her breasts and feed her husband is tinged with a depressed sexual anxiety which permeates the whole movie. It is surely no mistake that the lead character and her holistic mid-wife were once a same-sex couple, or that the only sex scene in this flick is shown as a dull and lifeless motion. There are some interesting questions raised in Grace regarding loss and about being a mother. How much love is too much? Unfortunately, the answers are lost in the denouement.

Jordan Ladd has come a long way since I first saw her in Gregg Araki’s Nowhere all those years ago, these days she seems to make her living in $5mil horror flicks like this. She plays her part well, full of nervous energy and arrogance. I really liked her. Gabrielle Rose is great as the overbearing grandmother who must have had great fun shooting the boob grabbing and breast feeding scenes. The baby actor however is awesome. In the scene where Ladd is bathing her, I totally bought that they were mother and child.

Grace twists and bluffs through to the inevitable conclusion, an old story told with a fresh voice that ultimately lets itself down in the climax. I haven’t seen the short that preceded this, but Paul Solet is clearly a talented hombre and I totally can’t wait for what he cooks up next.

Rating: ★★★★★★☆☆☆☆

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