Sunday, October 4, 2009

grace...


So, I'm at about that age where people I know, or knew, or went to high school or college with, are starting to have kids. Personally, I'm not there yet, not psychologically, not emotionally, not in any way. Honestly, the logistics of pregnancy, childbirth and child rearing pretty much disgusts me. Which isn't to say I don't like kids or babies. Kids and babies are great. They're cute, they do funny things, they represent the future...but just thinking about pregnant people or people with newborns really grosses me out, not just the physicality of it, the various fluids, distorted or developing bodies, but psychologically, just the way people act with their newborns, I don't want any part of it. I'd rather get a cat, which I can't, because my landlord is a fucking dick.


Because of my general squeamishness regarding the mechanics of early life, the recent film GRACE was a really skin-crawler of a viewing experience. GRACE takes everything I find icky about babyhood and ratchets it up a notch by added blood. Lots and lots of blood. In the film, a young woman, having recently lost her husband in a car accident, gives birth to baby that at first appears to be stillborn, then is revived as a blood thirsty zombie. The mother isn't entirely clear on what the baby is at first, until flies start swarming around the crib and the baby won't nurse on anything but blood. Oh, and the mom's a vegan, which doesn't really make that much of a difference in the film, except I guess it makes feeding blood and meat to the newborn more uncomfortable for her, or something.


Mostly, the film focuses on the mother's terribly misguided maternal devotion to her monster child. Confused about the child's condition, and afraid that it will be taken from her, she sequesters herself away from the world, isolating with the infant, trying to keep it alive (or dead-alive, or something) with increasingly ghastly feedings. There are a couple of subplots, about the woman's mother-in-law vying for possession of the child, and something about a past relationship with a women's studies professor who becomes the woman's midwife, but both secondary stories are kind of confusions and unnecessary, except that they give the woman some kind of tie to the outside world. Mostly, though, this is a film about a mother and her blood eating baby, and their isolated life together.


Despite some of the extraneous material, GRACE is an effective, uncomfortable film. Like DEADGIRL, it's serious horror rather than "fuck yeah horror!," save perhaps for the movie's gruesome punchline, which I still found effective. I think whatever your opinion on babies and childbirthing, GRACE will strike a nerve, because it's obviously a subject we all have some kind of connection to, if only because we were all once babies with parents, and it deals with that about as unpleasantly as you could hope for. Watch it, forgive the flaws, be grossed out, stay spooky...

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