Thursday, September 24, 2009

Grace – review

coverDirector: Paul Solet

Release date: 2009

Contains spoilers

Grace is a vampire baby film and this is not exactly new. We had, as far back as 1974, the almost masterful Grave of the Vampire and whilst the baby aspect of the film was small it was rather eerie and there are plenty of other examples – possibly peaking with Baby Blood.

This has a slightly different take on the sub-genre but it is most definitely a vampire baby.

Patricia and MadiMichael (Stephen Park) and Madeline Matheson (Jordan Ladd, who was in embrace of the vampire) want a baby. She is a vegan – he seems to live the lifestyle out of marital convenience rather than compulsion – and has miscarried twice. This time around she is pregnant and has got to the seventh month. His mother, Vivian (Gabrielle Rose), is a judge and know it all who does not approve of her daughter-in-law’s alternative lifestyle choices. Rather than use Vivian’s approved doctor, Richard Sohn (Malcolm Stewart), Madeline is going to use old friend and alternative midwife Dr Patricia Lang (Samantha Ferris). The film suggests later that Patricia and Madeline had been in a romantic relationship in the past.

saying goodbyePatricia’s intervention is needed when Madeline ends up at hospital due to chest pains that Sohn diagnoses as preeclampsia. Before they can induce Patricia intervenes and fairly much proves it to be gall-stones. Anyway, heading off in the car (presumably to Patricia’s clinic) there is an accident – a car whizzes past and the drivers airbag explodes spontaneously. Michael is killed and Madeline cannot feel the baby move. Madeline determines to carry the baby to full term – even though it is dead – and is left with the child, to say goodbye, when she finally gives birth.

flies are attracted to the babyPatricia comes through to tell her that she cannot will the baby to life and is shocked when Madeline shows that she is alive. Madeline calls the miracle child Grace. Except... the child isn’t alive but undead and things are clearly not right. The first thing that Madeline notices is the smell, Grace seems to smell – without dirtying her nappy – and bathing can lead to haemorrhaging through the skin. The smell also seems to be attracting flies, a lot of them.

feeding timeHowever Grace also is not feeding. When given milk she vomits it back and eventually she starts suckling blood from the breast. These scenes are done tastefully without (at this stage) resulting in too much gore. As a viewer, we notice, occasionally, that the baby’s skin seems odd and yet, when looking at her face on she seems a healthy baby girl.

preparing animal bloodMadeline eventually tries a bottle of animal blood but that is simply thrown up and she herself starts to become anaemic due to her own loss of blood. Then we have Vivian, mother-in-law from Hell, who misses her own son and wants to be a mother all over again. She decides (without evidence as Madeline cuts her out of the loop) that Madeline must be shown to be an unfit mother and she will take over. Unfortunately I didn’t think that she was used optimally as a character and seems a wasted oportunity.

a desperate mother trying to do what is bestThe story eventually turns into that of a desperate mother trying to do what is best for her baby and I don’t have a problem with the main performances. Ladd was especially good as the haggard, anaemic mother. However the film dragged for me, I felt that the pace was slow and that the film failed to capitalise on many of its potentials – Vivian’s disturbing desire for motherhood, at any cost, and Patricia and Madeline’s past relationship being two of the most glaring examples.

bloodied and haggardWe never actually get to know why Grace is this undead, vampiric baby. Was it the soya milk and tofu diet her mother was on whilst she was in the womb, was it a freak thing or was it the burning desire within the mother to keep her baby?

The film could have been excellent, creepy and moving in turns, instead – to me at least – it missed the mark. 4 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.


Nicole_Hadaway said...

I've kinda had a thing for vampire babies, or at least pregnant vampires, ever since I was 12 and had this vision of a pregnant vampire about to give birth on a wildly dark and stormy night. Though this movie makes the whole thing seem kinda depressing. And gross. But thanks for the review!

PS -- how's the sequel to Concilium going? I'm dying to know how Danaan is getting along...

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Hi Nicole, this one is on the depressed side...

Concilium 2... slow... I know where I am going, its kind of finding time and inspiration at the same time. I have twenty or so chapters drafted (which will be re-written ad nauseum, I'm sure) mainly from the past... Fenrir's backstory, an interesting one spanning the druids up until the eighties with Qutrub and Danaan involved, some sections going to 8000 BC... I will get there eventually!