It is such a relief when you know you’ve seen the worst movie of the year. With so many things out there, the worst of which are usually the most difficult to see, it’s always hard to accept that there isn’t something floating around that’s just that much worse than The Ugly Truth. For me, what this leads to is a run on the worst Blockbuster has to offer throughout the month of December. But December is going to be so much more enjoyable this year because I have seen what will be, without any doubt, the worst movie of 2009.
I suppose you could just read the description of Grace and, even if it’s trying to sell you on it, get the feeling that it’s going to be terrible. But that’s just a common kind of terrible. Surprise triggers badness just as much as it does the best movies. And so, as always, I would encourage you not to do that (and as such, to stop reading this right now and come back when you’ve seen it – it’s out on video September 15th, one month and one day after its release in theaters) as I have to imagine not knowing where this movie is headed only adds to the dizzying disbelief of where this movie is headed.
Where it’s headed (which you know because you just watched it, right?) is toward the land of baby vampires. See now, if you disobeyed and didn’t watch it, you’re thinking this is some sort of Twilight/Baby Geniuses mashup, and if that’s the case, you’re going to be disappointed. Because nothing could be that awesomely terrible. But you’ve only yourself to blame, for you were warned. Anyway, no, Grace is the only baby vampire. And they never actually say that word. To do so would ruin the carefully constructed “reality” into which Grace is born. The first third or so in fact, is all about holistic vs. hospital births. And it’s boring when it isn’t annoyingly self-righteous (the hospital side is never really given a chance), but it does competently serve as a distraction from the absurdity to come. Except for expectant mother Madeline’s odd choice to watch the meat processing channel, there’s no indication this will ever be anything but a meditation of this counter-culture debate that almost no one actually has. And thank goodness.
Not only does that make the appearance of a newborn who can only be sated with blood (whether it’s the siphoned juice of store bought meat, a stray rat, or direct from her mother’s breast) the kind of head spinning twist that causes you to miss what anyone says for the following two minutes as you strain to collect yourself, but there’s just no way to sit through that kind of movie when everyone in it is so thoroughly terrible. Only Jordan Ladd’s Madeleine scrapes by as passable, maybe because she mostly gets to do scenes with her baby and even though there are no weird effects of sparkling skin or scrunchy faces, there’s just no way you’re paying attention to anything else when an infant vampire is onscreen. I wonder though, if it matters at all what sort of performance any actor could give in this movie anyway. More often than not, they are awkwardly shoved into spaces far too small to accommodate even the few people in the scene, leading to even more awkward interaction amongst them. It’s shot so poorly that even though there’s only one scene where anything physical takes place, it’s very difficult to tell what’s going on or where anyone is at any given time. There’s one scene in particular where two characters disappear into the blown out background of the room they’re in and continue talking for at least another minute. There’s a lesbian subplot involving the stalking midwife (Samantha Ferris) who had a relationship with Madeline and is only too happy to have her ex-lover/student back in her life. She shows up as a savior when those brash doctors want to induce labor (it was just heartburn – or something) and parks in front of the house Madeline holes herself up in after Grace is born. And yet, when things are clearly going awry with the baby, Madeline finds it impossible to get a hold of her. Seems the midwife’s assistant (Kate Herriot) has a crush or relationship of her own and won’t give her boss/lover the messages. If only Madeline could remember anybody else’s cell phone number! Or could look outside and see the person she is calling sitting outside her house! Also, why do you have your boss’ cell phone all the time, assistant? I guess when your infant daughter is literally sucking the life out of you, you don’t necessarily think to ask any of these questions.
The horror of this horror movie is obviously of the psychological variety. There aren’t any scares and there aren’t supposed to be. But we are supposed to be creeped out by the lengths a woman will go to in protecting her baby, no matter how self-destructive it may be. But when everyone around is a weirdo [the aforementioned stalker and message-hoarder, a mother-in-law (Gabrielle Rose) who desperately wants to produce breast milk (and does), and a law-challenged doctor (Malcolm Stewart) who wants to taste said breast milk (but doesn’t)] it’s not so crazy to want to keep your “miracle” baby to yourself. The final line, “She’s teething,” is meant to send you from the theater shuddering at the thought, haunted for days, but I mean, yeah, babies do that. It’s kind of stupid of you to not see this coming. Also, why are you still breast feeding, dummy? That has not worked out well once since this baby was born. These are the kinds of conversations you have with the worst movie of the year. And you wouldn’t trade these moments for anything. Except maybe a sequel.