Grace – A Mother’s Calvary

Grace is, by far, the most unsettling horror movie I have encountered to date. It challenges me to think about what exactly is driving the horror here. It plays with the traditional concept of motherhood and turns it on its head. The movie initially confused me with which direction it would be taking with the playing out of the horror because, in the early parts, it wasn’t as forward with establishing the source of horror. But when the time came, the movie was unrelenting and rather upfront with having the viewer witness the beginning of the horror.

The scene where the mother gives birth and all we see coming out in the water is blood (not even the red, livid kind but more like a black ichor), I was revolted to the point where I actually felt light-headed from watching. It facilitated a feeling of horror I’d never experienced before. As a man, even I can appreciate the miraculous moment of birth and the arduous process of self-sacrifice a mother has to go through in order to give birth but that one powerful scene was one of the scariest I encountered.

Processing the monstrous element of the movie, Grace, I find it interesting how she exists as the object of horror and yet also she is presented so delicate almost like a victim of sorts, of circumstances maybe. This more or less puts me at odds with the movie because I find it so hard to see the baby as the that emotional sink for all that I should fear from the movie. Then I set my sights on Melissa, Grace’s mother, and again, all I saw was a victim of circumstances. The lengths she went through to keep her baby were extreme and really frightening. This makes me consider that maybe what is truly the horror are the circumstances, not just exclusively Grace nor her unhealthy appetite.

It’s easy to imagine that most of the horror I felt on my part was on the level of the self-mutilation that Melissa puts herself through for the baby. The baby as a horror is practically inert, by that I mean that I don’t feel the fear when it’s just her and more like she needs another with her, her mother, to catalyze the horror. I feel that that confounding clinging onto the hope of raising her baby normally or that motherly instinct in the face of having to rear something that literally takes a lot out of you is what scares me the most.

There is that moment I realize that there are pains and sacrifices a mother goes through to raise her children and I have respect for and gratitude towards them and my own. It’s a much different story when I watched Grace, because I felt pity for these mothers, Melissa and her Mother-in-law. And admittedly, it’s a not so alien reality that one grapples with, to pity a mother. A mother who cannot provide or one ill-equipped for the task is a pitiable state to some regard.

I still find it so fascinating that you can create the horror and grief like that of the movie Grace in such a sharp, polarizing manner by simply augmenting the not the role a person plays like that of a mother but by changing the circumstances like the receiver of their role. In this case, with a monstrous baby, we’ve turned the imagery of a determined mother into that of such a horrifying victim trapped into unprecedented events. It’s precisely that perversion of what is conceivably one of the greatest miracles of life into a sentence of entrapment that horrifies me as a male viewer.

 

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