The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: Anchor Bay Entertainment - 2009
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 84 Minutes
Disc Format: BD-25
Video Aspect: 2.35:1
Audio Format(s): English uncompressed 5.1 PCM, Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
Subtitles: English SDH
Starring: Jordan Ladd, Samantha Ferris, Gabrielle Rose, Malcolm Stewart, Stephen Park
Written & Directed by: Paul Solet
Music by: Austin Wintory
Region Code: A
Blu-ray Disc release Date: September 15, 2009
Eight months pregnant and fed up with traditional medicine, Madeline Matheson (Jordan Ladd) opts for the companionship of a trusted midwife. Though reluctant, her husband remains supportive of her choices until a sudden tragic accident leaves her unborn baby lifeless inside her. Madeline remains determined to carry her dead child to term and deliver naturally, but when she delivers the stillborn, the power of her love restores the child to life. Soon, however, the increasingly isolated mother realizes the miracle is not without consequence. Something isn't right with baby Grace. In order to keep her child alive, Madeline is faced with ultimate sacrifice.
When I read the press release for Grace I thought it looked interesting but building a horror film around a baby can be tricky and I couldn’t help but be a little skeptical. As stated in the synopsis the story is about a young expectant couple who meet with tragedy that leaves their unborn baby dead in her mother’s womb. Refusing to abort the baby Madeline (Ladd) opts to see the pregnancy to term and deliver as planned. The delivery is handled by Madeline’s midwife and friend Patricia who strongly urges her not to carry out her plans for the birth. Madeline’s seemingly duress driven wish against all medical advice bears miraculous fruit when, after delivering the stillborn child, Madeline appears to will her baby back to life. She soon discovers that her baby, named Grace, thirsts for something more than her mother's milk. Blinded by her desire to care for her daughter Madeline is determined to feed her, no matter what. The question is what or who will she sacrifice to keep baby Grace alive?
This film left me disappointed. Conceptually it had potential but when it came time to ante up it offered little in terms of character and story depth. Baby Grace is the primary (or should be) focus but the script veers off in to many other directions. It deals too much in the interpersonal relationships between Madeline and her mother in law, her mother in law’s seemingly inexplicable desire to be a mother to Grace, Madeline and Patricia’s past and how it affects Patricia’s current relationship, and lastly the plot seems to focus more on the things that the characters want and can’t have rather than offering any real substance regarding the why’s and wherefore’s surrounding Grace’s existence. This muddied the water and resulted in a choppy flow that rarely built suspense or offered any frightening moments. There was a bit too much ambiguity for my liking. That isn’t to suggest that every detail has to have an explanation but adding that creepy sense of “what if?” helps to establish the foundation to illicit fear. As the movie progressed I kept waiting for things to come together and it never happened. This continued right through the ending which by the way was as unsatisfying as the rest of the movie. I appreciate writer/direction Paul Solet’s passion and dedication to this film but unfortunately it just didn’t work for me.
The rating is for bloody images, violence and brief sexual content/nudity.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
Grace comes to Blu-ray disc from Anchor Bay HE featuring 1080p VC-1 encoded video that has an average bitrate of 15 mbps and lossless uncompressed 5.1 PCM audio that has a constant bitrate of 4.6 mbps.
This video presentation’s visual design didn’t lend itself to bright eye catching colors or polished image quality. The video had a cooler overall perspective which intentionally muted colors and flattened flesh tones. This seemed to place visual emphasis on the film’s dark thematic elements. Exterior shots tended to appear better resolved with fair long range acuity and object detail. The majority of interior sequences filmed within Madeline’s house had softer elements that lacked fine delineation. Occasionally close ups offered better definition and improved sharpness. Shadow detail revealed varied degrees of visible structure in dark backgrounds and blacks had good depth with noticeable gradational stages. Images had good contrast and bright whites that exhibited ample detail. I noticed some minor posterization and more than a few noisy backgrounds but its effects were negligible overall. To sum that presentation up I would say that it is fair but unremarkable.
The lossless uncompressed multi-channel PCM soundtrack had no problem delivering the elements contained in this more or less dialogue driven film. Surround and low frequency activity was limited to subtle ambient detail and the occasional discrete sound effects and deep bass associated with its mood creating music score. This was appropriate and sounded fine when applied. Other than a noticeably sibilant quality with female voices dialogue reproduction was never an issue and the combination of that and the other sounds mixed to the front three channels had good dynamic range, clarity and seamless directional transitions.
- Audio commentary featuring Paul Solet & Jordan Ladd
- Audio commentary featuring Paul Solet, Adam Green, Zoran Popovic
- Grace at Sundance – 13 minute documentary
- Grace: Conception – 6 minute featurette
- Grace: Delivered – Behind the scenes featurette – 37 minutes
- Grace: Family – 12 minute featurette
- Her mother’s eyes: The look of Grace – production design featurette – 7 minutes
- Lullaby: Scoring Grace – 9 minute documentary
Grace is the brainchild of writer/director Paul Solet and from listening to him it is obvious that he is passionate about it. Unfortunately I had a lukewarm reaction to its muddled/ambiguous plot and shallow characters. Its high definition presentation on Blu-ray Disc from Anchor Bay HE offers fair image quality and decent lossless sound. The bonus content is quite good and offers fans of the film insights into its origins and production. If your curious give it a rental but otherwise I would try and catch it on cable TV.
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