Tuesday, June 30, 2009


Grace is an emotional and psychological journey into terror as a young woman is forced to make the ultimate motherly sacrifice. The film focuses on Madeline Matheson (Jordan Ladd) who lives a natural lifestyle and is determined to deliver her child by natural birth. Madeline's husband Michael (Stephen Park) remains supportive of his wife's decisions while conflicted by his domineering mother, Vivian (Gabrielle Rose).

The story takes a drastic turn when a tragic car accident leaves Michael dead and the unborn child unresponsive. Madeline, however, makes the decision to carry her child to term. With the help of Dr. Patricia Lang (Samantha Ferris), Madeline gives birth to Grace. As Madeline holds her lifeless daughter, she miraculously wills her back to life. Over time, Madeline begins to realize that there is something unnatural about Grace as she is forced to make horrible sacrifices just to keep her daughter alive.

Grace is written and directed by first-time director Paul Solet, who makes an impressive directorial debut with his long-awaited film. Solet effectively displays his potential both as a storyteller and filmmaker with his ability to handle such delicate subject matters. Although the film falls under the horror genre, we seldom feel like we are watching such a film. Instead, Grace relies on a strong character-driven dramatic approach. Ultimately, the film deeply explores the horror genre while reinventing the craft.

While the film features multiple storylines within the main plot, it effectively creates parallels between the characters. Solet's writing style also shows maturity as the film brilliantly concentrates on mother-son relationships, which are further explored through the second half of the film. Surprisingly, the film was shot in a mere 17 days. For this reason and many others, Paul Solet is the star of the film despite the creativity energy pouring in from all angles. Grace is a fresh breath of air both for the horror genre and for filmmaking in general.

Unlike other horror films, Solet’s writing style allows the film’s characters to adapt to their respective situations. While Madeline leads a somewhat content lifestyle with her husband, her ability to transcend into paranoia displays radiance in the screenplay. While simultaneously focusing on a much deeper theme of mother-son relationships, Solet is able to pace the film in a rather compelling manner. More importantly, it is Solet’s abilities as a director to emphasize these intricate themes and allow them to develop within a horror film.

Grace has been on quite a journey since its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2009. The filmmakers have traveled across the globe, from Utah and Dallas to France and Scotland, finally making their way in Los Angeles to the School of Cinematic Arts at USC. While Grace gained some additional attention after two men fainted during Sundance, there was a supposed third victim during the screening at USC. A discussion panel followed the screening and included Paul Solet along with actress Jordan Ladd, producer Adam Green, director of photography Zoran Popovic, production designer Martina Buckley and composer Austin Wintory.

Prior to the discussion, we were told Paul Solet's 30th birthday was several hours away. Solet was given a baby carriage carrying the original "Baby Grace" from his first short film, while the audience began singing "Happy Birthday." Later, Martina Buckley described Solet as a "beautiful man." I had the opportunity to speak with the director after the discussion and truly felt her description was an understatement. Paul Solet is a kind and generous man, whose creativity shines through his debut film. Grace is a film worth seeing, not only for its subtle ingenuity but also because of its labor of love. Although Solet mentioned Grace will be given a theatrical release, Anchor Bay Entertainment has officially scheduled a release date for its DVD and Blu-ray for September 15, 2009.