Creed discusses the monstrous-feminine present in the horror genre that have deep roots in classical mythology. After reading the article, it definitely makes me wonder how the men reacted to this types of film? Grace was more disturbing to watch than any of the other films. For those of us girls who were seated at the back, we were cringing more and more after every scene, sinking in our seats and holding on to each other as Madeline’s pain worsened. Simply because you know that what is happening is no longer right and goes beyond the sanity of any women for that matter.
We are so used to seeing women as the oppressed and victims of horror films. But in this movie, another perspective shed light to a woman being the “monster”. It was not just the baby but it was also the mom that became the monster. The story defies the norm countless of times, this is why it made the film horrific and creepy as the story progressed. Firstly, the Madeline who was caught in an accident and her baby was declared stillborn yet decided to keep it inside of her. This is not only unusual but also rather dangerous and deadly for a mother. Then when she was about to give birth, she opted not to have medical support and chose the more natural and painful way as you can say, water birth. This could have affected her psychologically plus losing her husband and having a overly intrusive mother-in-law, which could have caused the gory decisions she had to make in the latter parts of the film. To our surprise, the baby was alive. I love how the director used the cctv as the scene to show the mystery of how Grace was revived. Again, unanswered questions that leaves us explanation to our imagination.
Well, to me, I believe she sided with the devil that brought the baby back to life. How else can you explain this unworldly happening right? The succeeding scenes now becomes more unexplainable. The baby attracted flies which only happens when a body starts to decay. Then instead of milk, the baby feeds on flesh and blood. This representation shows how the baby starts to drain the life of the mother which again signifies death.
Ironically, the word grace connotes positive blessings commonly used in religious matters. To the Christians, a baby is considered a grace because it is believed to be a gift from God yet in this horror film it is depicts quite the opposite. This baby, who is supposedly completely innocent, unable to speak and dependent on its mother becomes the most powerful and manipulative force in the film.
Though I never put focus on this monstrous-feminine and abject type of view, it is interesting how Creed gives an explanation to films in this sub-genre. Creed defines abject things to be that “those which highlight the ‘fragility of the law’ and which exist on the other of the border which separates out the living subject from that which threatens its extinction” Thus, in the film, we see how the cycle of life and death is threatened with the resurrection of the baby. It does defy the law of life and it does threaten man’s extinction. We change the discourse of life and there’s always a tradeoff that needs to happen – well based on other films similar to this plot. Maybe in this case it was the sanity of the mother and the death of the doctor. Someone had to die for the baby to live.
Another point mentioned by Creed is the mother-child relationship. “She sees the mother–child relation as one marked by conflict: the child struggles to break free but the mother is reluctant to release it.” Any mother who has experienced a loss of the child knows how heart-breaking and devastating this is. A part of you is gone, one that you nurtured and cared for. Thus, when baby grace was revived, the mother will do absolutely anything to keep it alive and well despite how crazy these acts may seem.
More so, the characters try to resolve nature’s balance and law of life. It was not only simply battling the child’s cravings or the mother-in-law’s annoying presence, but overall how this baby will survive in the long-run. The conclusion of the film did not leave much impression to me as much as I wanted it to. Madeline deciding to leave with Patricia felt like another prologue to another horror film.
Source: Barbara Creed, “Horror and the Monstrous-Feminine: An Imaginary Abjection”Horror, The Film Reader (Routledge, 2002)