Grace, was unnerving. It did not lie. Grace really is the center of this Horror film. Grace’s existence is horror itself. To make my thoughts clearer let me dissect my discussion into three: Bodily Fluids; Female Abjection; and Grace’s existence.
Barbara Creed, in her article “The Monstrous Feminine” discusses how bodily fluid is a form of horror in a sense that it is disgusting, gross. We would not want excrements to be in the same place as where we live. Grace, uses a lot of these bodily fluids to invoke disgust from its audience. Blood, vomit, poop, a rotting corpse, it uses these to invoke disgust from its audiences. We can see these bodily fluids in scenes where Grace is present. When Grace is born, there are many kinds of bodily fluids excreted by Madeline. First, Grace, a corpse, then some brownish fluid which made the water looked like it was filling up with poop. Madeline was in this pool of brown liquid, along with the midwife. These are women, who in the process and effort of delivering life, allowed for themselves to be drenched in this disgusting fluid. Madeline holds Grace close to her face. Grace is a corpse, and she is covered with the brown liquid. In other scenes, we see blood both exiting and reentering the body through Grace and Madeline. Madeline, wounded, bleeds while Grace feeds on her blood. We can also see blood when the Doctor is killed by Madeline, and later drained of his blood so Madeline can feed it to Grace. We also see milk, squirted out of Vivien’s breasts. This was disgusting in a sense that there shouldn’t be anything there anymore, and yet she forces it out. She even let’s her husband suck her breasts in hopes of generating milk. Milk, in this film suddenly feels disgusting in its rawness and unlikeliness. I felt as if the milk that came from Vivien’s breasts was old, or soiled. And because of Madeline, milk was on the same level as the blood she was losing, and her blood was made equal of that of an animal’s. All these insane behaviors from the women of this film. From the mothers of this film.
Barbara Creed also talks about the female abjection. Abjection being defined as “that which doesn’t not respect borders, positions, or rules.” The greatest abjection in this film here are the mothers. As mentioned in my previous paragraph, the insanity in this movie originate from the mothers. These mothers are willing to do anything for their baby, or to accomplish themselves as mothers. From Vivien forcing milk of her breasts to Madeline draining the blood of the Doctor’s arm. These actions of theirs is scary because it threatens the patriarchy of society. Mothers can commit these acts for their children. They can even give up their own literal flesh for their child to survive, in Madeline’s case. Aside from these is the fact that the bodily fluids which disgust us comes from these same mothers. These bodily fluids also come from the same reason as to why they commit such insanities, because they are mothers and this is how to preserve life. The creation of life is something men can’t do, and only mothers can. This film especially emphasizes that by giving no important role to the male characters. Madeline’s husband gets killed, Vivien’s husband is treated like shit except when Vivien wants him to suck her breasts, and the Doctor is just a means to an end. All the major acts are committed by the females. The carrying of life, the delivery, the preservation, all done by women. The second greatest act of abjection in this film is how Madeline could give Grace life. This was an ultimate disrespect and defiance of the rules of life, the positions of beings in this world for only God can give life. Grace, is no exception to the Monstrous Feminine.
Grace, is literally the Monstrous Feminine in this movie. She literally was supposed to be dead. She is a living corpse that is rotting away. She rots and yet she still feeds on blood. That’s like imagining poop absorbing blood. It was hinted a lot that Grace was rotting. Even her own birth was likened that to taking a dump in the John, pardon my English. Her entire being is the ultimate abjection in this film, her existence defies the order of life. She defiled the male hierarchy by replacing the only male in Madeline’s family. When the accident happened, both Grace and the husband died, but only Grace survived. Madeline’s husband dictated much of how the family was supposed to go, and it was clear that he held the power in the family. Madeline had to listen to him, and the only reason why Madeline’s wishes were followed was because the husband allowed it to happen. The husband even mentions it “you know I’m tolerating this” or something along those lines. But when he died, and Grace survived, she became the reason for her whole existence. Despite herself decaying, she would still choose to let Grace live. And there is a difference between her obedience to Grace with her obedience with her husband. With Grace, she is more subservient and unquestioning.
Grace, herself is scary, because she defiled one of the strongest rule there is, life. And despite defiling this rule, she doesn’t suffer like zombies do, but she is taken care of and even fought her. She is fed what would be forbidden, the life blood (literally) of her mother. Grace is the monstrous feminine defiling rules, positions, and even forcing others to do the same, overthrowing the patriarchy, and showing the helplessness or the uselessness of the male in the film.