Directed by Paul Solet
More so than their actions (which are fairly predictable) or their emotions (which are nearly always conventional clichés), characters in Grace are defined by their choices as consumers. Madeline (Jordan Ladd), for instance, is a suburban housewife who prefers holistic medicine to hospitals, hybrid cars that look like hybrid cars to masquerading SUVs, tempeh to meat and having a baby (the titular child) to fixing her marriage to her frightfully dull husband Michael (Stephen Park) — with whom she shares the most unsexy sex scene ever as the film opens.
Our borderline-hysterical heroine's nemesis in her quest to raise her miraculously reborn child is Michael's mother Vivian, played by Gabrielle Rose, the only actor who seems to take pleasure in this tactless film's ridiculous machinations. She prefers meat, wears pink skirt suits, sends her expensive doctor to tend to Madeline whenever possible and generally relishes monstrous mother-in-law behavior. And Grace, the object of the two more-similar-than-different mothers' power struggle, consumes human flesh and blood. Pronounced dead after the car crash that claims Michael's life, Grace is miraculously revived after Madeline carries her tragic pregnancy to term.
Though the "flesh-eating baby" hook might evoke other creepy-kids horror movies, Grace is more like the pretty but slow offspring of a daytime soap opera and Rosemary's Baby with a taste for Gothic novels. Cinematographer Zoran Popovic does his best to keep things visually interesting, shooting the suburban pastels in drifting, hazy shallow focus befitting Madeline's reclusive behavior and withdrawn mental state.
Writer-director Paul Solet, however, seems so caught up with the barely allegorical allegories of his film that he forgot to give it some feeling. He repeats and underlines all the important points, so even the malnourished cultural cannibals in the audience will understand that a) middle-class families breed monsters, b) the medical-industrial complex is out to get you and your money, c) motherhood is the strongest bond ever, and, most ridiculously, d) the only way to escape the soul-sucking strictures of bourgeois suburban existence is to live on the road with your old lesbian lover and meat-loving baby. Not that all these truths don't hold obvious appeal, but Grace doesn't have the chops to let the audience figure them out on its own. And isn't that really what good parenting is all about?
Opens August 14