Wednesday, December 2, 2009
“… it was clear to me that [writer/director Paul Solet] was really using genre as a way to tell a really profound story about women and childbirth and sacrifices and love.”
-- Jordan Ladd
There are some films you just really shouldn’t show pregnant women (or even women who are merely contemplating pregnancy, for that matter).
Films like Fruit Chan’s Dumplings or Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo’s À l'intérieur (Inside); the latter more so than the former. And then there's David Lynch's Eraserhead.
Well, I can now clearly add Paul Solet’s frighteningly impressive feature debut, Grace, to that shortlist.
In this highly disturbing film, Jordan Ladd (from Cabin Fever, Death Proof, and briefly, Hostel: Part II) plays Madeline Matheson, who is on her third attempt at pregnancy, when tragedy strikes.
What follows clearly proves the maxim, a lot of love and a little mental instability do not a good pairing mix. (It also proves that Ladd is a young actress who needs to be paid attention to.)
Solet delves deeply into the primal anxieties that inform the entire process of conception, gestation, and childbirth, those universal fears of something, anything really, going so very terribly wrong.
I suppose it’s only natural then, given the film’s subject matter, that this is a tale populated largely by the feminine; there are only three male roles of note here, and one is disposed of early on, while all three are influenced (to varying degrees) by a much more powerful female figure.
It’s also interesting to note that it’s not only the disintegration of Madeline that we witness onscreen, but the other females in the narrative also undergo mental and emotional stresses of their own (some more readily visible than others).
The psychology of the female, as well as the fierce, maternal instinct, is brought sharply into focus by Solet, and what we get is a very dark and unsettling piece. In that respect, Grace is also a sort of sister film to Neil Marshall’s The Descent, where the feminine is also something forbidding and formidable to contend with.
And above and beyond the feminine aspect, these are also characters who are yearning desperately for things they can’t have, and who are willing to go further than the usual distance to have and keep those things. Regardless of gender, that’s a very universal feeling, one that can reduce us to actions we’d never thought ourselves capable of.
So, just to reiterate: this one’s got teeth.
Not your easy-peasy Hollywood popcorn horror, this.
Among other things, Grace is a disturbing portrait of the lengths a mother will go to for love of her offspring (and that doesn’t just apply to Madeline).
Fittingly enough, Solet dedicates the film to his own mother…
Parting shot: Grace is produced by Adam Green, who brought us Hatchet.
Parting shot 2: Reviews of À l'intérieur (Inside), Hatchet, Death Proof, and Hostel: Part II can be found in the Archive.
(Grace OS courtesy of shocktillyoudrop.com.)