Grace (2009)

Genres - Horror  |   Sub-Genres - Satire  |   Release Date - Aug 14, 2009 (USA - Limited)  |   Run Time - 94 min.  |   Countries - United States  |   MPAA Rating - R
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Review by Derek Armstrong

Few horror movies strike at the fears of expectant mothers as mercilessly as Paul Solet's Grace. In terms of sheer nastiness, even Rosemary's Baby may have to stand in line behind this nasty little piece of work -- "nasty" in the best sense of that word. As if the prenatal and postnatal traumas experienced by Jordan Ladd's Madeline are not sufficiently devastating, there's enough Freudian trauma here to keep this woman on a therapist's couch for years -- epitomized by the ominous image of Madeline's domineering mother-in-law, preparing for a hostile surrogacy by coaxing milk from her own fiftysomething breasts. (Gabrielle Rose is a grotesque delight as the baby's malevolent grandmother.) For all the gruesomeness that's present in Grace, however, Solet actually shows impressive restraint. We don't need big moments of FX-enhanced horror to be unsettled by Madeline's unholy spawn. A lesser movie might have made explicit the idea that this baby is possessed by an evil presence, rather than just being, you know, undead. Instead, we rely on the telling details to detect aberrations in the child, like the houseflies that circle above her head, or the slightly feral noises emanating from the baby monitor. Not content merely to offer us visceral chills, Solet shrewdly incorporates satirical jabs at both conventional medicine and midwifery, though the meaning of his commentary is not always clear. Ladd really commits to dramatizing the farther reaches of maternal instinct, while dwelling in a fugue of anemic exhaustion -- a fugue with which any sleep-deprived new mother should be able to identify. In fact, much of what transpires in Grace is a metaphor for real and tangible concerns about first-time motherhood. As such, even its more extreme moments, of which there are several, have a purpose beyond merely skeeving us out.