500 Movie Challenge: Grace

GraceThere is only one way to watch an indie horror film you know little about, and that is with film buff friends. When I received Grace in the mail from Netflix, I called up my friends and set a date. One week later, we were sipping beer and yelling “That thing is dead!” at a large television. If you don’t have such friends in your life, find some. They make weekends worth living for.

The gist: We open with Madeline, a young woman with a horrible mother-in-law. Madeline’s a bit of a hippie—she eats vegan even when she gets pregnant, and insists on going to a midwife instead of a regular doctor. Mother-on-law is judgy as heck, and pushes the conventional doctor on her constantly—even when she has early pains and may deliver the baby too early. The jerk doctor’s judgement almost kills the baby, but it’s saved just in time. Madeline makes up her mind: No more hospitals, no matter what happens.

But a car accident takes place, and Madeline is left widowed with a baby that is going to die in utero. She decides to carry the baby to term, letting whatever will happen happen. The baby comes out—and is alive! Well, alive and a little smelly. Alive and attracting flies. Alive and rejecting breastmilk… but seemingly happy to nurse on blood.

What I “learned”: A horror movie doesn’t always feel creepy if it’s tied very strongly to a time period. Grace is great, but it feels much less scary than The Exorcist. The super-modern talk about alternative health and child rearing reminds 2015 viewers of their present lives. It takes us out of the plot, because it feels too real. Too real to allow weird and spooky things to happen.

I’m not saying there’s a set aging period for horror. What I am proposing is that realism, like empathy, is a factor that must be treated with caution in horror. Too much, and nothing is interesting. Too little, and you have Army of Darkness. We cannot all be Army of Darkness.

See this movie if you like: Something scary that derives its spookiness from real-life peculiarities. Yes, the baby is creepy and bloodthirsty. But the weirdest parts of this movie are the most grounded in reality. The movie is shot in such a way that the more sleep-deprived Madeline is, the less you can see in peripheral vision. That’s spooky. Also, the mother-in-law is way too obsessed with child rearing and motherhood, to the point where she tries to draw out breastmilk from her aging breasts. That’s super creepy. And super easy to imagine happening in real life.

Avoid this movie if: You can’t comprehend the idea of babies being evil. This isn’t an “evil child” horror film. This is a living, breathing infant. There were tons of scenes where I genuinely didn’t believe that an infant could be so gross and evil. But that’s because I’m the type to squee over any infant in the room. It’s completely different from Chucky. I could drop-kick that thing and feel nothing.


New Films Watched: 79

Films Re-Watched: 4

Total Number of Films: 83

poltergeist Princess Dread Movie Challenge

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