“A mother’s love for her child is like nothing else in the world. It knows no law, no pity it dares all things, and crushes down remorselessly all that stands in its path.” – Agatha Christie
It is hard to fight a woman. Most especially if this woman is a mother and you are, in one way or another, attacking her child. More often than not, you will lose. There is something about a mothers parental instinct that makes her nurture and safe-guard her children from danger. This is the norm when it comes to mothers towards their children. However, what is the line drawn when your child, who you thought was dead, begins to have an appetite for human blood?
Grace (2009) directed by Paul Solet is a relatively interesting drama, horror, thriller film. What I find interesting in this film is not necessarily the story or even the acting, but I find the representation of the strong will, impact, and sacrifice of mothers narrated in the film, which represents the motherly care each mother has for her child, minus the child having to partially eat you to stay alive part. The strong message of the undying love of a mother and her willfulness to do anything for the sake of her child brings into perspective the kind of stress, sacrifice, and hardships a mother must go through in the life of a child.
Barbara Creed introduces in her article: “Horror and the Monstrous-Feminine: An Imaginary Abjection” the term of “abject.” An abject is defined as “the inability to assume with sufficient strength the imperative act of excluding abject things (and that act establishes the foundations of collective existence).” In the context of Grace (film), the abject being discussed in the film are the mothers. The abject is someone who threatens life and must be “radically excluded from the place of the living subject.” This is more explicitly seen through the mother in law of Madeline (Jordan Ladd), Vivian.
Vivian (Gabrielle Rose) chooses to impose her dominance towards the couple of Michael and Madeline by going to great lengths to find what is best for her soon to be granddaughter even if both Michael and Madeline insists on doing things differently. It is also important to note that it is quite evident that during the entire movie, the male gender and the father figure is not given importance at all in the film. Michael doesn’t always have a say in matters concerning him, the baby, or his family. Then the supposed father figure dies before the birth of his baby. Henry (Serge Houde), the husband of Vivian, is seen merely as an object by Vivian, most especially after the death of Michael.
Society is used to seeing women as the victims and the damsel in distress in these movies, let alone horror films. Yet in Grace, we are gifted with two different yet empowering portrayals of women and mothers and not the stereotypical weak, frightened, and clumsy woman that movie viewers are accustomed to see. The women in the film may not be the victim per se but they can also be considered the monster. Grace, Madeline, and Vivian portray different yet similarly “monstrous” personas in the film that can captivate the audience into thinking that in one way or another, they are all monsters.
Creed also mentions the significance of the mother-child relation. According to the reading, the mother-child relationship is “one marked by conflict: the child struggles to break free but the mother is reluctant to release it.” This can be properly seen with Vivian. After the death of Michael, Vivian is in a state of disbelief and all she want to do is to “replace” the feeling of being a mother. She is reluctant to relieve herself of the act or the duty of being a mother that she resorts to numerous ways of being a mother again. From starting to breastfeed again to wanting to take Grace all to herself pushes the idea that the conflict between the mother-child relationship has worsened for the case of Vivian because she is not only reluctant to release the child (or the idea of being a mother and having a child) but she becomes partly psychologically crazy due to her life revolving around being a mother and doing anything it takes in order to re-establish this in her life. If this is her form of coping for the death of her son, this is one messed up mother.
I honestly first thought that the entire movie would revolve around a demonic murder happy baby. But seeing the entire movie, I deeply appreciate the focus on the different attitudes and characteristics of mothers. The film just encapsulates the entire idea that a mother’s undying love for their children will always prevail.
Barbara Creed, “Horror and the Monstrous-Feminine.” Horror, The Film Reader (Routledge, 2002)