Two thousand and nine was actually one of the best years for horror movies including hits like Dead Snow, The Last House on the Left, The Human Centipede, Dead Girl, Splinter, Antichrist, and Paranormal Activity. The list goes on and on. My favorite horror movie of 2009 after Martyrs, The House of the Devil and REC is Grace – a disturbing little tale about the unbreakable bond between mother and child.
This may have been one you missed. Even though it isn’t as big as some of the other films listed, this indy film packs a punch in the most unassuming and disturbing way. Madeline is a pregnant woman who has had two miscarriages in the past. She has a tepid relationship with her mother-in-law, who frowns upon her holistic and vegan lifestyle, especially her decision to choose a midwife for their birth. Unfortunately, a car wreck kills Madeline’s husband and unborn child. She decides to carry the baby to term and Patty, the midwife, succumbs to her request while trying to make her as comfortable as possible. The birth of this corpse baby is heartbreaking. I don’t think any woman should watch this movie while pregnant. The gloom and despair would be too much for a woman in such a fragile state of mind.
Now, this may seem more like a tragic drama than a horror movie, but after her birth, Madeline holds the tiny corpse – a scene this is both grueling and disturbing to the nth degree. She tries breast feeding the dead baby and it is willed back to life by some divine intervention, something the midwife can’t explain. It is an absolute miracle and an absolute curse as she will soon find out. The mother-in-law goes through her own weird grieving process, milking her own nipples in hopes of gaining custody, believing Madeline to be an unfit mother. Madeline shuts herself away from the world, dealing with baby Grace’s rotting smell and insatiable appetite for blood. A mother’s love will surpass all boundaries and she will do anything to protect her child, even the worst imaginable.
Jordan Ladd (Cabin Fever, Club Dread, Death Proof) plays Madeline with precision. With little use of special effects or creepy makeup, the performance is key. This is a more mature role for her and being the only actor in 90% of the film requires a performance that is both authentic and convincing. This film would have been a complete flop if it weren’t for Ladd’s fine-tuned artistry. The supporting cast is mediocre but that is okay since it is not about them. This is a special kind of horror movie. There is a sadness to this film creating a restrained thriller that is scary and polished. Is Madeline absolutely crazy? Is it post-traumatic stress? Or is her baby really a freaking zombie?!? The fact that the film doesn’t come right out and say that Grace is a zombie is inventive and unique to the zombie subgenre.
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