In most texts, shows, or films, a mother is usually portrayed as someone who so willingly does anything for her child. It is so often shown how nothing compares to a mother’s love. Though this may also be true in the real world, the movie, Grace, portrayed this kind of love in a rather creepy and disturbing way. It showed a kind of love that willed her daughter to life, but at her expense. It literally showed how a mother is willing to be “consumed” for the sake of her child.
This horror film constructs and confronts us with the fascinating and seductive aspect of abjection, which as explained by Kristeva is something ‘that which does not ‘respect borders, positions, rules’… that which ‘disturbs identity, system, order’. With the presence of Grace as a living corpse in the form of a creature that is usually seen as a symbol of innocence and is unthreatening, I believe, is what makes the story compelling. Anticipating what the baby would do next or how the baby as the monster will attack throughout the film kept me on the edge of my seat.
The film managed to show images of abjection with the living corpse, followed by an array of bodily wastes such as blood, vomit, pus, poop and milk. Those that are culturally and socially constructed notions of the horrific. These bodily wastes being shown multiple times in the film which generated the feeling of disgust from both the protagonist and the viewers have contributed to this horror film as a ‘work of abjection.’
Grace mostly revolved around the theme of the mother as abject where she goes beyond what’s normal for her child as well as to keep her status as a mother. And at the same time, threatens the law and order of the patriarchal society. This can be seen from both Madeline and Vivian – Grace’s mother and grandmother, respectively. In Madeline’s case, she still wanted to deliver her stillbirth normally and eventually wills Grace to life. Despite what seems to be a literal ‘parasitic’ relationship between her and her child, she still went on and nurtured Grace feeding her blood even though it was harming her to the point where she was already too weak to even function. She has even resulted to committing a crime wherein she killed the doctor in order to make sure that her daughter stays with her. Vivian, on the other hand, was very controlling of her son when he was still alive. And after her son died, she desperately needed to replace him to keep her status as a mother desperately wanting to take Grace away from Madeline.
In the movie, Grace as the living corpse is the ultimate abjection. She was a corpse whom Madeline carried within her making her existence paint a scarier, more horrific world. She was the ultimate symbol of horror in the film who, I believe, may also be considered as a bodily waste that which Madeline’s body extricates itself from it so that she might continue to live.
Though there were not much jumpscares in this film which are usually present in most horror films I have watched, Grace still managed to scare the life out of me through the sickening and disturbing storyline that has come to life through the realistic images and graphic scenes. Madeline choosing to deliver her already dead child normally only when she is already due was disturbing already. However, it made the movie even more horrifying when she willed a zombie-child to life who, as it was shown in the movie, was not only quite demanding, but was a rather picky eater, consuming only her mother’s blood. In this film, I did not need a scary face to jump out of the screen in order to be scared or get creeped out. I felt that this movie was quite slow-paced, however, it worked perfectly for the story where each of its elements perfectly came together to form a horrifying content. Even the appearance of flies flying over the baby’s crib, Madeline being a vegan who has a fascination for watching shows that portray animals being killed for their meet, and Vivians breastfeeding fetish have already managed to make my skin crawl. I have also found the ending showing a snippet of how Madeline will be now that Grace was already teething a perfect touch increasing the horror felt by the viewers.