Skip to main content

SIFF 2009, Day 16

June 6, 2009

Grace (2009) Dir. Paul Solet

Grace was another film from the midnight adrenaline series and first feature from writer/director, Paul Solet, who was at the screening. He talked about his interest in film being cultivated by his camp councilor. Turns out Eli Roth (Cabin Fever, Hostel) was once a camp councilor and trusted to council children. But anyway, I'm guessing it was the Eli Roth connection that helped bring Jordan Ladd into the project to play the lead, Madeline Matheson, a woman who desperately wants to have a baby.

Madeline and Henry (Stephen Park) appear to have a great life. Madeline has given up work to become a full time wife and mother, but so far all of her pregnancies have ended in miscarriage. Finally she is pregnant again and the couple decides to use a homeopathic birthing clinic and midwife instead of the more common hospital birth. Close to the end of term, the couple are in a traffic accident that ends with loss of both Henry and the unborn child. But Madeline will not allow labor to be induced and carries the dead fetus to team, waiting to have a natural childbirth at Naturebirth. And shortly after Madeline gives birth to the dead baby, her midwife, Patricia Lang (Samantha Ferris) find Madeline nursing the baby, Grace.

However, this is not quite the perfect miracle. Grace is not a normal, healthy baby. Madeline notices a smell and flies accumulate around the crib. And Grace has a thirst, not for milk, but blood.

In general the tone of the film is perfect for this tale about unnatural nature of childbirth and motherhood. I mean, just because everyone says nothing is more natural than having a baby, I cannot imagine anything that less natural or more terrifying then having something growing inside for nine months. There is plenty in that probably universal terror to base a film on. But with Grace, Paul Solet was attempting to tell a story about the intense bond between mother and child, a bond so strong that a it is only natural for a mother to kill in order to protect her child, and in the case of Grace, she's willing to kill to feed her child.

Well, if that was the intended subtext, it wasn't a complete success. I saw a different film in Grace that was more about the intense need of some women for a baby. And that this drive is, at some level, unnatural. That's how I read this film. In many ways, this was the same movie as Jan Svankmayer's Little Otik, but with more gore and significantly less horror. But despite not going as far as has been done, it did work, but it was far from the pro-woman movie that the filmmaker seemed to believe that he made. Sadly, many of the female characters were not well developed or particularly interesting, but the worst crime was the attempt at a lesbian plot line that completely depended upon unrealistic stereotypes.

And my question is, why aren't women making horror movies about motherhood? Because perhaps, this material in the hands of a woman could birth a more subtle and interesting film that comes across as more genuine.


Popular posts from this blog

Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhastan

Right after seeing Sacha Baron Cohen's film, Borat, I was disappointed. I didn't laugh nearly as hard as I had hoped and it wasn't quite as outrageous as I had expected. But in retrospect, I have to admit the comic brilliance of Borat. Sacha Baron Cohen has adeptly created a film about a fictional man, Borat, from a fictionalized Kazakhastan and used this creation to show the hipocracy of America. Using tactics pioneered by reality television shows, Borat travels across America on a quest to find his true love, Pamela Anderson. On this journey, he meets numerous people who share their thoughts about a multitude of things, exposing the way some Americans really believe about race, class, homosexuality and the other sex. It is a very interesting film. Sure, it gets laughs from ambushing Pamela Anderson with a wedding bag, traveling with a bear, and a bit of naked wrestling, but this film is also very smart in its sly portrayal of the wealth of prejudices that are ali

Girls who are boys, who like boys to be girls...

Where does one begin? Peaches Does Herself is a German concert movie of Peaches. Written by, Directed by and starring Peaches. But how does one describe this experience? Normally, I skip the Face the Music program of films at SIFF each year, but Peaches Does Herself was described as the queerest film in the festival. As it turns out, I knew exactly one Peaches song prior and still know little to nothing about her, but it didn't matter. I enjoyed the music and most of all, I loved her persona. Her sexuality was on display and was not only unapologetic, but read as loud as if it were a billboard with "fuck normalcy and judgement, this is who I am" in bright pink neon. To give an overall impression of the film, I've decided just to lay out what happens along with stills. I suspect that is the best I can do for readers to decide whether this is something they should seek out. The film begins in Peaches' bedroom and after the dancers climb through a giant vu

Brand Upon the Brain! And more horror...

Brand Upon the Brain (2007) - I'm on so much crack! I'm a huge fan of horror. Guy Maddin! I love his movies and he was just in Seattle to perform Brand Upon the Brain! I'm certain I've written about Guy Maddin's films in the past, because he has been in Seattle several times for screenings and discussions of his work, especially since he spent quite a bit of time here casting, filming and scoring Brand Upon the Brain! with all local talent. What is so unique about Guy Maddin is that he creates modern, silent expressionist horror movies. His other films have been scored and therefore have the look and feel of a 1920s era silent picture without being silent. Brand Upon the Brain! is a silent movie and his best feature thus far. Like much of Maddin's previous work, this is totally autobiographical, or to quote Guy, "The thing is literally a true story - only much, much better." The main character is the prepubescent, Guy Maddin (Sullivan Brow