(The gist: Grace: The Possession literally took on the eyes of a demon as it possessed a young girl. I loved being so inside the protagonist’s head that I saw her eyes blink in front of me and watched her nervously wring her own hands below me. It was brilliantly done and made the movie fascinating. If only they had beefed up the exorcism scene to put all that magic where it mattered.)
Mockumentaries (fictional movies shot to appear as documentary footage) have what I call a first person, often shaky camera, perspective. This approach makes the film appear to be shot from a camera one of the characters is holding (or, in some scenes, has placed). Grace: The Possession takes a first person perspective to an entirely new level by making the camera itself the demon and allowing us to see absolutely everything literally through the eyes of the possessed.
Grace follows, the aptly named, Grace as she is possessed by a demon. Like all possession horror movies, it follows the gradual progression as the possession manifests itself. As we learned in The Conjuring: infestation, oppression, and possession. After her mother is killed giving birth to her, she is raised by her strict religious grandmother. We enter her head as the demon does when she is arriving at college.
Then all hell breaks loose, of course.
The literal first person perspective fascinated me and is the reason I saw the movie in the first place. It was a very unique viewing experience. I was impressed by how well done it was. My viewing partner and I wondered at the techniques they must have used. Grace, as our eyes, blinks enough for you to know you are actually seeing through her eyes but not as much as a person does in reality so as not to be distracting. She looks around to express her shy mannerisms. She closes her eyes when she takes a shot. It is all very authentic, and something about the organic feel of it makes it feel very real.
Being inside Grace’s head also did wonders for character development. It was very easy to empathize with Grace as I was wearing her skin through the movie. I liked Grace. I wanted her to cut loose and experience college; I felt bad for her as the possession was ruining her life. I cared as she dug to find out what had truly happened to her mother. Feeling like I was her drew me into her plight.
Another benefit to the first person perspective was that it amplifies the fear. When I saw the same tired ghost under the bed sheet scene I have seen in numerous horror movies before, it was actually creepy for the first time. And I think it was because it was staged to be as if I was actually seeing it rather than the more traditional omniscient experience of watching the characters experience it.
Brilliant. I loved it.
It was something original in a subgenre that falls a little formulaic at times. That being said, Grace did fall short on one element of the formula. Tragically, the crucial one.
Possession horror movies are almost entirely lead up to the exorcism scene. For some of these movies, that exorcism scene is the majority of the film (and should be). Grace does such an excellent job setting up the scene and developing Grace as a character that the climax of the movie ends up feeling rushed.
The possession activity ramps up quickly and becomes a barrage, which is fine. However, the exorcism scene was much too brief. And that is the scene I was waiting the entire movie to see through her eyes. Yes, it was still very cool, but it would have been even more impressive if it was thicker, slower, more excruciating to be inside her head.
Grace was totally worth it and beautifully original, yet it could have been better if a little more attention was paid to the climax, particularly the exorcism scene.