Film Review: Grace

Lame horror entry about a woman who gives birth to a literal little monster won’t scare up the bucks, in spite of post-fest hype.

Paul Solet’s Grace has done the festival circuit to death, including a showing at Sundance where reportedly two filmgoers fainted. But surely it was an overheated auditorium rather than this undercooked tale (apparently trimmed for the big screen) that felled the patrons.

whimpers a bit like Rosemary’s Baby and gurgles occasionally like The Exorcist, but the video look and bare-bones craftsmanship all scream B-movie. The best bet for Grace is a B-line to home-video which will follow Anchor Bay’s first stop at big screens.

Auspicious August is low-budget genre time for theatres and the grave-robbers and couples in distress are already making the rounds. Joining the fray is Grace’s mother in distress Madeline (Jordan Ladd), pregnant and in a lousy marriage with obnoxious hubby Michael (Stephen Park), who is soon dispatched to heaven by way of a car accident. Also lost, but not really, is the baby Madeline carries, which is also pronounced dead.

As story here is everything and characters nil, Madeline decides to carry the baby to term and deliver the goods via natural childbirth (don’t ponder why). To facilitate this, she enlists midwife Patricia (Samantha Ferris), her former lover.

Hardly a bundle of joy, the now-anointed baby Grace, like the filmmaker, is afflicted with a breast fetish. The irritable, repulsive infant chews on nipples, attracts flies, and is a source of the necessary blood-spilling.

The other nuisance is Madeline’s former mother in law Vivian (Gabrielle Rose), a Margaret Thatcher-like bitch determined to gain possession of little Grace (don’t ponder why). Enlisting the help of wimpy husband Henry (Serge Houde), she prepares her own breasts for the milking job. Vivian also engages milquetoast Dr. Sohn (Malcolm Stewart) to take her side in the baby fight by having him discredit Madeline as a mother.

Beyond its breast and childbirth obsessions, Grace is packed with other de rigueur elements at the genre’s low end. Occasional shots of disgusting raw meat, menacing cable-TV animals, and a symbolic black cat interrupt, as do gratuitous digressions into unconvincing lesbianism. A smattering of nudity and a female cat fight are other routine menu entries.

The DVD projected for press had a dull look. It doesn’t help that L.A.-based filmmaker Solet shot in Western Canada. (So much wood paneling in so many bland rooms is a giveaway.) His writing and direction serve the form and the performances are good enough, but not enough to distract from the pervasive shabbiness. Worse, frights in this curiously R-rated offering are few, and filmgoers looking for an occasion to faint will be disappointed.