It would be hard to talk about Grace and not talk about a similar film; one of the greatest horror films of all time, I am of course referring to Rosemary’s Baby. In many ways of course Grace is based heavily on Rosemary’s Baby; not to say that it’s a rip off but it revolves around many same themes and philosophical questions. And besides I may be personally biased as to Rosemary’s Baby is my favorite horror film but classics in film are highly regarded and respected. And so with that said I view Grace as a tribute to the masterpiece that was Rosemary’s Baby in many ways but also offers it’s own spin to it. Of course you’d instantly notice that Grace gives much more attention to the Baby and the actual horror and difficulty of raising it.
The central theme of Grace is of course a mother’s love and it revolves around the question, what is a mother to do if her baby becomes a monster? And when I say monster I mean a literal monster, not a symbolic monster or anything like that. The monster in this movie is firstly the Baby because of what it is physically. It feeds on blood and that sort of stuff. The baby is depicted in this movie as something horrific. Of course the normal cute and cuddly babies can be seen as horrific in their own regard because of the trouble and responsibility it takes raising them but Madeline’s baby is an entirely different animal. Madeline’s baby is basically a living corpse that feeds on blood. What this film does is it takes the horrors already associated with childbirth and raising a child and turns it into an actual horror film and an actual film monster. Aside from that the film also uses filth from the baby and childbirth in the form of blood, feces, pus, vomit, etc. To generate disgust from its viewers. The use of these were all very graphic and were used very frequently.
Then there’s the mother. While watching the movie you’re torn between applauding the mother for doing whatever it takes to take care of her child and being disgusted with her for the things she does. Of course you have to sympathize with Madeline for all her adjustments in life to care for her child and everything she has to sacrifice and is willing to do all for her child. But in her own right Madeline is also one of the monsters of this horror movie. Mothers in the film are also depicted as frightening things. Firstly you have to look at the horrific side of childbirth contrast to the miraculous side. It is a disgusting ordeal and one that only mothers and females can physically endure and withstand. It is also note worthy that mothers in this film also represent the breaking of the patriarchy which can be considered scary for the traditional and conservative males. Both central female figures in the movie are single mothers by circumstance.
Ultimately though the center of the horror in this film is found in the transformation of the mother, Madeline and the transformation of the film itself. The film starts out as a normal film with a couple having a hard time conceiving but it takes twist after twist as Madeline gets her wish but not in the way she had hoped; her husband is already dead and her baby seems to not be human. There is a transformation in Madeline from a normal female to a mother who is willing to protect her child Grace at all cost even if it requires her killing for it. Madeline will not let anybody harm her baby or separate it from her. This also gives emphasis between the strong, unbreakable, bond between a mother and her child. After all it’s the only thing it’s literally spent 7-9 months in her body and bonds like that are unexplainable for people who haven’t experienced childbirth. Madeline may be a hero for her child but she becomes a monster and a menace to the rest of society. This is where the gender in horror comes to play. When there is a mother that is willing to be a monster to protect her child.
The ending though ends with the acceptance. An acceptance from the part of Madeline that her child is really beyond her understanding. And in her acceptance she needs to reach out to something beyond herself to understand the situation of her child being different, being “other” from every other child which makes her an “other” compared to any other mother.