GRACE THE POSSESSION

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DVD REVIEW: GRACE THE POSSESSION / CERT 15 / DIRECTOR: JEFF CHAN / SCREENPLAY: JEFF CHAN, CHRIS PARE / STARRING: ALEXIA FAST, LIN SHAYE, ALAN DALE, CLARKE PETERS / RELEASE DATE: JANUARY 19TH

Eighteen-year-old Catholic girl Grace (Fast) goes to college after a strict and puritanical upbringing from her fearsome grandmother Helen (Shaye). Although determined to remain a good girl in a hedonistic new environment, Grace is drawn into the party lifestyle of her new friends and colleagues. But something’s not right, something’s tormenting her with visions and hallucinations and after passing out at a party she’s whisked home by her Nan for some r‘n’r... but Grace remains haunted by the memory of the horrific death of her mother who died giving birth to her, and the terrible destructive urges she realises she can’t control...

At first blush it looks as if we’ll be settling down to watch another lo-fi Carrie wannabe; naive young girl adrift amidst the worldly-wise and corrupted by some unspeakable power she’s barely aware of. High school hi-jinks ahoy! What’s intriguing about this set-up though is the way it’s being played out; this isn’t exactly a ‘found footage’ effort but the story is told from Grace’s perspective (or, as we find out, the perspective of whatever’s inside her) – we see her only in passing, usually reflected in mirrors. It’s a neat conceit, entirely disconcerting but absolutely beguiling and we look forward to watching Grace wreak havoc across the campus as she’s undoubtedly humiliated and tormented by her new teen chums.

But not a bit of it. After about half-an-hour – and a bit too soon, frankly – the film changes direction. The High School and its temptations are left behind when Helen takes Grace home and she has to come to terms with the fact that she’s harbouring something very nasty and very destructive. If she’s to control and even rid herself of it she needs to find out what it is and where it comes from – which means she has to find out the truth about her mother’s death. Much chaos ensues as the creature within rises to the fore and starts to do a Linda Blair on all and sundry...

There’s nothing much new in Grace The Possession and yet it’s still a snappy and engrossing experience. The first person perspective gimmick helps take our minds off the fact that the whole movie is shamelessly ripping off both Carrie and The Exorcist and Fast, although we don’t see much of her, is compelling and likable as the naïve innocent out of her depth in her own body in every respect imaginable. The about-face from the familiar High School setting back to Grace’s more insular home environment is jarring at first but is actually a brave narrative move which pulls the rug right out from our expectations and leaves us wondering quite where we’re heading next. The film thunders confidently towards its climax (some decent low-key FX as Grace’s demonic passenger reveals himself) and an entirely unambiguous ending which reminds us that sometimes things don’t always turn out absolutely for the best. Grace the Possession rattles along and finally clocks in at around eighty minutes; but for once this is a straight-to-DVD effort which not only doesn’t outstay its welcome, but which actually could have done with an extra thirty minutes or so to put a bit more flesh and colour on the bones of a good story, surprisingly well told.
 


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