Abjection, according to Barbara Creed in her article, “Horror and the Monstrous-Feminine: An Imaginary Abjection,” is going beyond the borders of normal and acceptable to disturb any identity, system, or order involved. In the movie Grace (2009), we see how a mother became abject. Madeline (played by Jordan Ladd) decided to deliver her baby even though the child died in a car accident. Another casualty from the accident was his husband Michael (played by Stephen Park). Just by that decision to carry and deliver the baby until the end of pregnancy, we see how Madeline had gone beyond what is usually done whenever there is a miscarriage. Normally, the baby would have been gotten out of her after the child’s death. But Madeline decided to push through, rendering it out of the norm.
Madeline, a mother as abject did not follow the norms. She did it to keep her status as a mother—she had experienced several failed pregnancies already and this was one she had hoped to be a success. By doing this she had challenged the society already. Even more so when Grace came back to life after stillbirth. Everyone is just like, what just happened? How? Is that even acceptable?
As the movie progressed, Grace started to manifest as some sort of vampire or zombie baby. She just had to feed on blood. So Madeline complied and continued to feed baby Grace with blood. What can she do? She was a mother who loved her baby so much. We could not contest her love for Grace, but seriously, it had been taking a toll on her since she had sacrificed and given so much for the baby. She was becoming sick and she even killed people.
Grace herself was also abject. She is a zombie or vampire, I am not quite sure, but she most certainly is not human. Although but a child she is the monsters in the film, needing fluid deemed as filthy—blood. She was frequently surrounded by flies and she lived off the meat of her mom and eventually of other creatures. This kind of existence threatened the human race, so Madeline chose to keep this extraordinary situation a secret.
By being this way, too, Grace is somehow separated with her mother Madeline since the both of them are two different creatures then. But Madeline loved her anyway and tended to Grace still. Quite an unusual situation for something (mother and daughter relationship) that should have been normal.
I found this film disturbing for all the reasons and analyses stated above. But then again, maybe it should be that way since it is a horror film after all. I just found it really uncomfortable how someone’s love for something or someone else could drive you to do so much crazy, even get yourself eaten or get your body drained of blood. To me that is some kind of commitment but it also had gotten foolish. If you really love that thing why would you want for yourself to die or become weak? If you die or become weak you would not be able to see this one thing or person you treasure so much. And you would not even be sure that someone would be able to care for it or him or her the way you do. I say, take care of yourself.
I guess this is also a message for moms out there. Of course, you have an unconditional love and bond with your daughter or son that you would not want to be taken. But please, take care of yourself too. I have gotten quite reprimanding and personal in this post, as I know a lot of mothers out there who have become so tired. I only worry for the moms. Yes we would want what is best for the child but in order to do that, you have to be at your best, too. Let us not be like Madeline.
But if your child did become a zombie like Grace, I do not know what to say to you. That is another thing and I do not blame Madeline for her actions. It is because you would know how such a baby-zombie would stir up some adverse reactions and society would try to take the baby away, for reasons that it is threatening to the human race and safety, and you would want to keep your baby safe because you love him or her. I hope such a similar situation never happen to anyone, really. I honestly hope that this kind of thing stays in fiction. It is an unfair and extra hard situation—maybe I would go abject if it was to happen to me, too.
Barbara Creed, “Horror and the Monstrous-Feminine: An Imaginary Abjection.” Horror, The Film Reader (Routledge, 2002).