There’s a pervasive and unintentional Raimian sensibility to Grace, writer-director Paul Solet’s feature debut, that thoroughly undermines its Polanskian underpinnings. Solet’s film ineptly pays homage to both Rosemary’s Baby and Repulsion not with quiet desperation and suffocatingly prolonged dread but with volcanic explosions of blood and baby formula. Solet’s unwelcome love for projectile fluids suggests the film is not being sold properly, playing more like a modestly subversive, gross-out comedy than an indie horror pastiche.
Like Mia Farrow’s character in Rosemary’s Baby, Madeline Matheson (Jordan Ladd) is an ultra-liberal housewife eagerly expecting her first child. Madeline is so open-minded that not only does she compost and drive around in a Hybrid, she’s a vegan with more of an interest in homeopathic remedies than in hospital care for her firstborn. Forget questionable herbal remedies from a shady little old lady down the hall; brazen independent woman that she is, Madeline is bringing up her devil-spawn all by herself.
That’s more than likely because the only semblance of community in the film is somehow even more of a political cartoon than Madeline. Because her husband dies early on in the film in a car crash, the only other person interested in Madeline and her newborn daughter Grace’s well being is Vivian (Gabrielle Rose), Madeline’s mother-in-law, who is itching for a baby of her own so badly that she forces her besotted husband to suckle on her just to sate her maternal lust. This leaves Madeline, the mother of the titular Antichrist, who is continually surrounded by flies and only drinks blood, alone to look after her child with only her unhinged ex-lover midwife (Samantha Ferris) to help her out. This is either the most confused political satire of blue state/red state stereotypes or one of the most confused contemporary horror films.
Madeline shuts herself off from the rest of the world, leaving us to rely on her unreliable narration. Accordingly, her fears should strike a nerve but they never do. Solet is more interested in having her bleed in unusual places, spelling out his protag’s fears of her own out-of-control body with all the tact of The Evil Dead. Torrents of blood run through the film, the kind that geyser when they should quietly trickle. Grace chows down on her mother’s teet with such gusto that it’s a wonder that we don’t get to see a nipple-less boob until the film’s charming final scene. If Solet earnestly thinks a ravaged mammary can be a dreadful portent, the joke’s on him.