Grace Paul Solet

Grace Paul Solet
Having come into Grace devoid of an It's Alive viewing past, I had no preconceptions of campy monster baby syndrome prevailing in this psychologically horrific tale of unrequited desire. Jordan (daughter of Cheryl) Ladd is Madeline Matheson, a woman wholly fixated on birthing and raising a child. A sequence of mechanical, perfunctory sex opens the film, the distant look in Madeline's eyes revealing a fundamental disconnect from her husband. It's worth noting (and receives hefty set-up time on screen) that Madeline is a strict vegan and white-collar environmentalist. Touching a bloody wrapper to cook her husband an occasional steak is repulsive to her, but even agreeing to prepare flesh demonstrates Madeline's willingness to provide for her family, even in the face of her morality. Stern, old school mother-in-law Vivian is at odds with Madeline's choice of a midwife instead of a hospital birth even before an unexpected car crash leaves the child dead in the womb. Madeline is determined to carry the child to term anyway, and through the mystical powers of "how the hell?" the baby regains life after a post-stillbirth scene of motherly affection that's both disturbing and touching. It's that uneasy marriage of heart-wrenching maternal sentiment and protective irrationality that pulses at the core of Grace's emotional impact. Baby Grace requires a special liquid diet that most certainly excludes mother's milk, but not all of mother's fluids. Madeline follows the terrible logic of her helpless child's needs to its natural conclusion after exhausting many meat-wasting options. Convinced her daughter-in-law is mentally incapable of nursing, Vivian single-mindedly campaigns to claim Grace for herself. The few male characters in the film are heavily marginalized but intentionally so, and never short-changed in character depth for the brevity of screen time. Grace is a slow burning, surprisingly low-gore exercise in tension and defying genre expectations more akin to Rosemary's Baby than anything a direct-to-DVD release would indicate. Swearing no man could have made this film, watching writer/director Paul Solet's fantastic collection of special features made me eat my words. This disc, loaded with a series of entertaining and informative production documentaries, from the idea's conception, reworking, shopping, shooting to Sundance showing, contains some of the most valuable behind-the-scenes info for budding filmmakers on any recent DVD release. A director/producer's commentary is equally enthralling and the DVD-Rom even includes the script. For a first-time director, Solet is a remarkably confident, thoughtful and developed talent. An unnerving and original film, Grace successfully introduces one of the horror genre's most promising new careers. (Anchor Bay)