After such a great, conventional horror film such as It Follows, I was wondering how long it would take for this class to revert back to its weird, hipster, picks such as Deadgirl. The answer to that question was, “not long,” apparently.
We’re back at it again, taking a look at one of the weirder films so far with the 2009 horror film by Paul Solet entitles Grace (2009). The film revolves around crazy mother Madeline (Jordan Ladd) and undead, vampire baby named Grace. The film’s plot basically reveals how far Madeline, a mother, would go just to sustain her child, which turns out to be a blood-sucking creature. It goes through a plethora of spine-tingling scenes where Grace would suck hard enough such that not just milk comes out from her mother during feeding time. On top of this, when she was not capable of providing Grace with blood (which she found out was what she needed to survive), Madeline resorted to the blood of a person she killed, as well as from cleanly-slaughtered cows. If you do not think that is a weird film, or maybe the weirdest of the films so far, you must like blood and what the body excretes.
The film showcases one element that is very popular to the horror film genre: abjections. According to Barbara Creed, abjections are “… that which ‘disturbs identity, system, order.’” These are what spill out from the human body, that signify the “other side” of life. These which humans abject are what the body needs to remove from it in order to keep life within. The film Grace has a number of these abjections, which turn out to be, in the bigger picture, ironic.
The irony lies in Madeline’s use of an abjection to keep something that is already dead, alive. Now this may seem confusing, but here’s how that works. The moment Madeline gave birth, it was shown on the film how Grace did not look like a healthy baby. She was not breathing, and was not crying at all – the two basic indications that a baby was delivered properly. Madeline somehow willed Grace to life, and here she is, a “living” baby. But, as shown throughout the film, this baby was not your average baby. First of all, an abundance of flies would circle and land on her; this is a characteristic of that which is stinky, and one thing that comes to mind is dung. Second, Grace needs blood as her primary source of food. As mentioned earlier, Madeline found out that Grace did not drink milk after she realized that each time she was ready to feed, the latter would have to chew Madeline’s breasts to the point that blood came out. Furthermore, Grace loved the blood from the raw cow that Madeline bottled up. From these two characteristics, a certain something can be associated with Grace.
Grace is a living corpse. Flies flock around her as if she is a decomposing, dead entity. She drinks blood as if to put back something that should be there still. This is where the puzzle’s pieces have finally been put together. That which should be dead (Madeline’s baby) is being brought back and sustained to life by substances which are meant to be outside the body once unhealthy (blood). This is backed up by Creed’s take on how bodily abjections keep the human person alive as mentioned in the quote, “The body protects itself from bodily wastes such as shit, blood, urine, and pus by ejecting these substances just as it expels food that, for whatever, the subject finds loathsome. The body extricates itself from them and from the place where they all, so that it might continue to live.” She basically ingests substances we excrete so stay alive.
I have come to realize that the average horror film viewer would really be revolted by some of the films being shown in class so far. But, upon further review, juxtaposed with professional essays written by horror film scholars, films such as Grace have a much deeper meaning. Although I still didn’t really enjoy the film, seeing how what is shown in the film has deeper wrinkles to them really changes my opinion on these films.
Janovich, M. (2002). Horror, The Film Reader. London: Routledge.