Welcome to Knockout Horror and to another Horror Movie Review. This review today will be a bit of a shorter one. I wanted to throw up a few Horror Movie Ending Explained articles this week. They take a fair bit of work so I have focused more on Quick Fire Reviews. Quick fire reviews allow me to still bring you new reviews without sacrificing other parts of the site. Today we are continuing with our theme of Pregnancy Horror. We have already covered Delivery: The Beast Within, The Womb, and Baby Ruby so far this month. Today we are going back a bit further with our review of Paul Solet’s Grace from 2009.
Based on a short movie. Grace received a fairly positive reception on its release. I originally watched it years ago but rewatched for this review. It’s actually a bit of a bitch to find this movie at the moment. I had to sail the seven seas, so to speak. It just isn’t around anywhere in the UK which is very annoying. Anyways, many of my early sentiments regarding this movie held true. It’s an okay horror movie but man is some of the acting atrocious. This movie will be part of a Pregnancy Themed Horror Movie List. It will also wrap up our Pregnancy Horror theme for at least awhile. Let’s take a look.
Grace follows the story of expectant parents Madeline and Michael. The pair have been trying for a baby for a long time. After a number of miscarriages. Madeline finally makes it through the early stages of pregnancy. Fearing the risks of giving birth in hospitals. Madeline chooses a more natural and holistic approach. Her ex-girlfriend, Patricia, is a midwife and Madeline wishes to give birth in her clinic. Despite the objections of Michael’s overbearing mother. On a trip back from an emergency visit to the hospital. Everything changes for Michael and Madeline in a way they couldn’t have imagined.
Grace is pretty standard fare when it comes to pregnancy themed horror. We have new parents desperate to do the right thing. Much like Delivery: The Beast Within. It becomes apparent, early on, that there is something very wrong. An accident suffered by Madeline in the part of the movie. Offers an opportunity to delve into the darker side of pregnancy. Only for the story to open up in a somewhat unexpected way. It’s fairly typical stuff but, also, pretty engaging.
Grace moves rapidly between the usual stages one might expect with these types of films. Playing to type for the most part. We see Madeline clash with her mother in law and husband. We see the pair visit the midwife and we have the familiar drama elements that are typical for horror like this. It doesn’t take too long for things to open up, however. We are quickly thrust into the world of a new mother caring for something otherworldly.
Grace is exactly what you might expect of a movie like this. It doesn’t do anything particularly different. Aside from the initial stages of pregnancy. The meddling in-laws, the difficulty to conceive, the visits to the midwife and what not. Events mostly takes place after Grace’s birth. The focus is placed squarely on Madeline’s insecurity. Coupled with her desire to protect her daughter, whatever the cost. Flies swarm over Grace. A persistent smell lingers, regardless of how much Madeline washes her. And the little bugger has a propensity for biting. If this feels familiar it is because you have probably seen it all before. Grace is, very much, by the numbers when it comes to this theme.
Solet attempts to portray events with something of a comedic edge. A satirical play on Madeline’s strict vegan lifestyle. Stands in stark contrast to the later events of the movie. Something that bears mention given the display of graphic videos of actual slaughter. The movie is presented, almost, with a single eyebrow raised to the viewer. Is it a judgemental eyebrow? To be honest, I am not sure. There is, however, an cruel coincidence to the events that take place given Madeline’s lifestyle. In all honesty the dark comedy and slight edginess don’t work very well.
As far as horror goes. Grace does manage some effective moments of tension. Whereas the movie doesn’t go quite as far into the horror as one might expect. Being far more content to act as something of a drama movie for the most part. As the ending draws closer, the atmosphere darkens. This leads to a final 15 minutes that are fairly effective. Grace, more often than not, chooses to be disturbing rather than scary. At times it can feel like something of a body horror. At others, it is simply quite slow and rather boring.
Practical effects are, generally, quite bad. Earlier scenes featuring the baby are quite disturbing given the context. Later on we are subjected to awkward closeups of the baby’s mouth that look, simply, dreadful. The body horror elements never really get to stretch their legs. The movie seems too concerned with not showing a naked boob to really get into the damage being done. It feels like a lot was left on the table here.
The above plays into some of the bigger issues with this horror. Grace is content to meander for much of its length. Very little happens. A mother getting little sleep and struggling with a new baby is hardly a recipe for good horror. Perhaps for the person suffering that fate it is. But to watch? It is simply rather dull and Grace indulges in it far too greedily. You are forced to wait for the drama to unfold. Everything in between is overly familiar and rather uninteresting. On top of this, the movie is full of plot holes. The decisions made by characters here are ridiculous. Events that would simply never take place are presented as feasible. It is rather silly and quick to take you out of the drama.
Grace does feature a few dark scenes here and there. It isn’t quite enough to get past the feeling of over-familiarity, though. Babies drawing blood while breastfeeding are par for the course in films like these. Still, the unsettling behaviour of Michael’s mother is key to much of the film’s horror. Many of the scenes appear to be designed to make the viewer feel uneasy. The sound of a person eating a steak. A baby loudly crying. An elderly woman noisily breast feeding a man, for example. It’s a nightmare for sufferers of misophonia. I had to actually drop the volume at numerous points as the sound production is simply barbaric.
Whereas the score is decent and rather fitting. There is a distinct use of oversensitive mics turned up way too much. Character’s voices are loud and direct. Disgusting sound effects feel as though they are right next to your ear. It is both uncomfortable and feels rather cheap. The camerawork falls into a similar trap. Shots are taken from odd angles. At times it is almost filmed from a first person perspective. It feels brutally low budget. Despite being filmed on, what is, evidently decent equipment. This feeling of cheapness is further compounded by goofs like seeing crew members in shot. It all feels a bit amateurish and rather careless. Needless to say, this is the work of an inexperienced director.
Acting in Grace is absolutely atrocious in parts. Some of the worst I have seen in anything outside of micro-budget horror. Jordan Ladd, as Madeline, is particularly guilty of this. I really don’t want to bag on her but she took me out of every scene. Her delivery is horrible and, almost, childlike at times. She only manages competence during her childbirth scene. Everything else is really bad. The scene after her accident is particularly noteworthy for how awful it is. Not to mention the final scene of the film.
Her acting really isn’t helped by Paul Solet’s absolutely abhorrent script. I don’t know how anyone would deliver some of these lines well. I couldn’t shake the feeling that Grace reminded me of Resident Evil. And I don’t mean the films or the remakes of the game. I mean the original Resident Evil video game with all of its comedic line delivery. Grace is so reminiscent of that in parts. It is horribly awkward.
Samantha Ferris, as Patricia, is decent which makes Ladd look a lot worse when the pair share the set. Kate Herriot, who plays Patricia’s assistant Shelly, is even worse than Ladd. Luckily she doesn’t have many lines. Gabrielle Rose is very effective as Michael’s mum Vivian. Stephen Park, on the other hand, as Michael is not so good. As mentioned above, the script is so bad that it undermines every scene. When combined with some of the bad acting. Grace can come across extremely unintentionally funny.
Grace is a pregnancy themed horror movie that really doesn't do anything new. Slow paced for much of its run. There is a firm focus on drama and mundane new parent stuff. It does eventually open up to some effective tension which is very welcome. Acting is shockingly bad outside of a few cast members. This movie is, also, a nightmare for anyone with misophonia. Still, as far as pregnancy themed horror goes. Its worth a watch. Just don't expect too much.