Monday, October 26, 2009

Grace (2009)

Review #0007

A great premise involving a living dead baby gets the soap opera treatment in this disappointing Sundance entry. Granola mom Ladd is expecting a baby long overdue since a miscarriage due to hospital incompetence. When the baby dies in her womb following a car crash (that incidentally kills her husband), she decides to keep it anyway and carry it to term. Against all odds, it survives. Rather, it comes back from the dead to surprise mom after a chilling, blood-drenched delivery (that constitutes the high point of the film). It is named Grace, due to the miraculous nature of its birth. Truth is, there is no miracle. The baby is a monster that attracts flies even more than a dead piece of meat, and needs blood in order to survive. Still, it is mom's pride. The only person she has left in the world. And although her distress and impending madness are expressed quite blandly, she is more than willing to provide the baby with blood. First, by squeezing the juice out of steaks (a huge stretch for a vegeterian...), then by murdering. But it doesn't really matter because nobody cares at this point. The characters are all under-developed and bear little relevance to the target audience for this film (no, it isn't pregnant women who line up for this). Suspense is nil, as well as innovation. The film does, however, get some points for discussing the thorny issue of midwife-assisted pregnancy as well as the legitimity of religious faith. Unfortunately, the audience just isn't there. At one point in the film, Ladd's character comments on the images of animal slaughter she is watching on television: "It's like a vegan horror film", she says. Now, that's exactly how "Grace" feels like: an anemic, vegan horror film for anemic, vegan people (who usually steer clear of the horror genre altogether). It is a watered-down version of "Rosemary's Baby" lacking the lifeblood injected by crazy Roman Polanski, specialist of the madness-through-high-rise-apartment-buildings sub-genre (see "Repulsion" and "The Tenant" also). I'm not saying the film is entirely bad. It isn't. But it was an ill-advised venture considering how many horror fans are willing to step into the gynaeceum.