Barbara Creed, talks about the monstrous feminine, in her article “Horror and the Monstrous-Feminine: An imaginary abjection” and this shows how the woman, in horror movies is terrifying and Grace shows us the most terrifying type of woman: a mother who has lost her family.
Grace revolves around the story of Madeline, the mother of Grace, and her life after she the car crash which killed her husband and unborn child, Grace. Madeline, unable to grasp or accept the fact that her child is dead, still bears the child and come the time of her birth, she gives birth to a still-born child. Disregarding the fact that Grace is a still-born, Madeline kept her in her nursery and still took care and one day, Grace mysteriously comes back to life.
Even though it is evident that the child is different than others, Madeline still cared for Grace and wasn’t bothered by the fact that the child was practically dead and has come back to life. Here we see what Mark Jancovich discusses in the General Introduction about how people as rational beings in horror films tend to go to extremes especially when they are at a loss, they would accept things or events that would usually happen in normal circumstances.
For example, Madeline wasn’t bothered that she was keeping a dead baby in her house and acting as if it was real. Out of desperation, she decided to take it as normal and just accept that somehow, her baby came back to life. It didn’t worry her that Grace needed and wanted were different from the usual needs of a normal baby. She even to extremes and kills people to keep Grace a secret because she knows in the back of her mind that it was out of the norms. Moreover, Madeline even bought meat for Grace even though she was portrayed as a strict vegan in the film.
We also have another character, Vivian, the grandmother of Grace and the mother of Michael, Madeline’s husband who passed away. Similar to Madeline, Vivian is suffering from the loss of her child and here we see another example of a monstrous-feminine and how mothers can be terrifying. Vivian is seen in the movie as controlling and that is not uncommon to some people but Vivians attitude worsens throughout the movie and can be described as monstrous. Vivian develops jealousy towards Madeline who gets to “keep” her baby and even schemes against Madeline to try and steal Grace from her. Again, even though Grace is not a normal baby. Vivian also tries to convince the doctor into declaring Madeline as unstable and unfit to take care of Grace, in the hopes of stealing Grace.
The monster in this movie takes the form of Grace, a baby, and in the context of the movie, I feel that in a way, it disagrees or deviates from the basic formula of a horror film which is normality being threatened by the monster. But in the movie, Grace is not treated as a threat by the two mothers, instead, they welcome Grace and not treat her as an “other”. On the other hand, although it seems that they became happy due to the circumstances and is not threatened in any way, Grace poses a threat to the normality of society. Surely, when Grace is discovered by other people, the news would spread that Madeline is harboring a potential devil-child and be taken away from her. Also, not known to the mothers, Grace poses a threat to their state of mind because they are willing to accept something that is extremely out of the norm
The movie portrays how strong a mother’s love for her children are. We are given the example of two mothers mourning the death of their children and out of desperation and absolute grief, resorts to disturbing and extreme measures to regain the feeling of being a mother.
Mark Jancovich. “General Introduction.” Horror, The Film Reader (Routledge, 2002)
Robin Wood. “The American Nightmare: Horror in the 70s.” Horror, The Film Reader (Routledge, 2002)
Barbara Creed, “Horror and the Monstrous-Feminine.” Horror, The Film Reader (Routledge, 2002)