Grace (2009)

Chilling, elegant and deeply, deeply disturbing. That was my initial response to seeing Grace written and directed by first time film maker Paul Solet (more on him later). Grace has the feel of Roman Polanski or a lost David Cronenberg, methodically paced, well crafted well acted and while the plot doesn't necessarily have the originality you'd want-the who's and why's of the journey are never pandering, nor expected. The film at times reminds one of Clive Barker's Hellraiser, not in it's gore but it's tone and intensity.
Grace tells the story of a young couple who after two miscarriages find them once again with child and the vegan mom is doing her best to have a healthy safe pregnancy, eschewing "traditional" medicine (i.e. hospital birth and her pushy mother -in-law's gyno) for midwifery. After a freak car accident causes the fetus' death Madeline played with surprising charm and pathos by Jordan Ladd is determined to carry the child to term and deliver the still born Grace as planned. It's truly gut wrenching to follow this very real emotional journey that occurs quite often and goes unspoken in society. What happens next is an existential horror nightmare. Grace is born but somehow willed back to life miraculously( by her mother's love?) . Grace seems healthy and normal at first but over time it's clear that something is very wrong with baby Grace. Add to that the potent mix a grieving control freak mother-in-law seeking to take Grace as her own from Madeline whom she seems to have despised always.
Grace is truly unsettling and provocative. How strong is the mother/child bond? What will a parent do for the safety of their child? How does someone survive a loss? How does grief effect you? It's tapping into these base level fears that work so effectively for Solet who has receive unanimous praise for Grace. Famously two men fainted at the Sundance premiere, one during Grace's fairly graphic birth scene, another outside the theater after walking out due to the scenes of real animal slaughter that Madeline sees on a television show (this isn't gratuitous and hey-people- you should really know where your meat comes from-there is NO SUCH THING AS A MEAT TREE!). Grace is one of the best horror films I've seen in ages and also one of the best films I've seen all year.

Okay, so...
Paul Solet who wrote and directed Grace from his original more expressionistic short film has really tapped into feminist theory , parental fear, holistic backlash, and binary adherence. It's brilliant and one expects to see great things from the young director with his upcoming and equally disturbing BSH about three crooks holed up in a warehouse that is home to dog fighting ring-and one loose pissed off Presna Canario. Aside from that we can also be superficial and hate him not only for his talent but for his looks as Solet is quite the fox.

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