When I watch films like Grace, I am surprised at how those films still count as horror. The movie Grace is about a mother’s boundless love for her child where the monster in question is not experienced as a monster by it’s mother, but as a miracle baby with special needs. Most if not all mothers claim to have infinite love for their offspring and while this is true, love can only be given during the mother’s lifetime. In the movie, Madeline and her husband Michael are lucky enough to conceive a child after two previous miscarriages. Coming home from a check-up in the hospital, the couple become involved in a car accident that results in the death of Michael, and Madeline’s unborn baby. Unwilling to remove the dead baby from herself, Madeline carries the baby to full term and predictably gives birth to a stillborn. After spending a few minutes with her dead child, miraculously Madeline’s baby comes to life and she is named Grace. Madeline soon finds out the troubles of raising a child as a single mother, especially since her baby has a special diet and only drinks blood from her wounded nipple. Madeline does everything in her power to protect and to provide for Grace.
We discussed in class that horror films have social relevance in that they are able to present what our society represses in a “safe” way. One of the issues I found in the movie was first and foremost Madeline’s relationship with Grace. To what extent will Madeline allow herself to be taken advantage of Grace, who wounds her and drinks her blood. Similar to that are the oppressed of society, who are always treated as “victims” instead of agents of change. It may not be completely their fault that they are in their situation, but they should not allow continued abuse. Conversely, the society “Graces” who mindlessly take from the “Madelines” should also be called to attention. In the movie, Madeline went to her old friend Patricia – who was revealed to be an old lover – instead of the hospital for childbirth. Patricia is the owner of an alternative birthing area, where midwives instead of doctors attend to expectant mothers. Despite Madeline’s own inclinations, her mother-in-law Vivian still sent her friend Dr. Sohn to attend to Madeline when she could because he was part of the norm that is the hospital. Those events reflected society’s marginalization of homosexuality. Patricia and Madeline used to be lovers, and Madeline’s choice to stay away from the hospital is parallel to her sexual preferences. Vivian’s insistence that Dr. Sohn be the one to take care of Madeline is much like society’s rejection of homosexuality and insistence on heterosexual relationships.
None of those things really bothered me that much, except for when Vivian began to have sex with her husband and even let him breastfeed from her. Society often presents its members with a double standard with regards to sexuality. Men who have a lot of sexual relations, even old men, are praised for their conquests while women who do the same are frowned upon – this is because of repression. And while I think that basic repression is necessary, anything in excess proves to be of no good use. The fact that the sex was Vivian’s initiative, and that she was old really didn’t sit well with me – which just goes to show that even I’ve been drinking the kool-aid! Grace was a different kind of horror movie, and while I didn’t get bored during the movie, I honestly would not watch it a second time.