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  Grace Zombaby
Year: 2009
Director: Paul Solet
Stars: Jordan Ladd, Samantha Ferris, Gabrielle Rose, Stephen Park, Malcolm Stewart, Serge Houde, Kate Herriot, Troy Skog, Jeff Stone
Genre: HorrorBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: Madeleine (Jordan Ladd) and her husband Michael (Stephen Park) have been trying for a baby for a couple of years now, and they have not had much success but a lot of heartache. However, now it looks as if it will pay off as she is eight months pregnant and all seems to be well, as she is determined that the baby be as healthy as she is trying to be, watching what she eats and drinks and generally looking after herself at this time. She ignores her know-it-all mother in law Vivian (Gabrielle Rose) who keeps insisting the child be born in a hospital, for there's a clinic Madeleine wants to take care of things - what could possibly go wrong now?

Seeing as this is a horror movie, quite a lot. Just when you though the zombie flick was a spent force artistically, along came Paul Solet, expanding his acclaimed short film into a feature, and applying the hackneyed devices of many of those aiming for some of that George A. Romero popularity to the tale of a cute little baby who just happens to thirst after human blood. Wouldn't that make her a vampire baby, I hear you ask? But no, for the tyke is born a zombie and you can't put a newborn straight onto solids, so once Madeleine has worked out that her daughter Grace is no ordinary baby, it places her in a dilemma of how to nourish her offspring, which she finds out about the hard way.

What has happened to bring her to this nightmarish state of affairs is that Michael exits the movie early in a car crash, one which has supposedly killed the foetus in the process, yet Madeleine is determined to give birth in the usual fashion, stillborn or not - it's as if she senses Grace might not be as dead as the doctors tell her. She ends up at the clinic which to add to the awkwardness is run by her ex-girlfriend Patricia (Samantha Ferris), and after a lot of bloodletting, out pops the baby in the birthing pool - and Madeleine turns out to have been right all along, she was still alive, no matter all appearances to the contrary. It's here that the low budget shows, for they used a rubber puppet for the infant, which may look unintentionally comical.

That puppet shows up again, and never quite convinces, but the nervy performance of Jordan Ladd helps to paper over some of the cracks, and a real baby was used when they could get away with it, which may highlight the special effects but you couldn't have expected the real one to down a bottle of blood. Soon in Repulsion style the new mother is alone with her child and gradually going crazy as she starts attracting flies and looking none too salubrious, as you might have anticipated from one of the undead, but Grace was part of a long line of sinister sucklings reaching back to Ray Bradbury's amusingly absurd short story The Small Assassin, and from there to the wildly different in tone to this likes of It's Alive or Braindead.

Solet was aiming for a mood of creeping dread, something a few audience members grew impatient with, but others responded to as a welcome change in a sea of sensationalist shockers. When the word got out that selected viewers of this had fainted watching it during a screening at the Sundance Film Festival, it offered the movie a small degree of notoriety that Solet and his team must have thanked their lucky stars for, and sure enough the story capitalises on the queasiness of substituting blood for breast milk. That said, there is a feeling of this being a one idea movie, as inevitably Madeleine resorts to murder in the final act, as if there was no other way to build the tale to its climax, though Grace, being a zombie, prefers the blood of the living, so her mother's valiant attempts to wean her off onto something less personal (cow's blood doesn't work either) come to naught. You could see this as a allegory of post-natal depression, but it operated just as well as a horror which moved in increments to its final, bleak punchline. Music by Austin Wintory.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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