Monday, May 20, 2024

Raging Grace movie review & film summary (2023)

In his feature debut, writer and director Paris Zarcilla proves he is a master storyteller. He carefully builds his suspenseful tale with a horror twist layer-by-layer: showing us Joy’s hardships, establishing Grace’s rebellious phase, immersing us in their problems until what looks like divine intervention arrives that’s almost too good to be true (and it is). The scares include nightmare sequences, suspenseful escapes, and awkward insensitive exchanges between Joy and her employer Katherine (Leanne Best)—the kind that make you flinch just overhearing them. 

Cinematographer Joel Honeywell further enhances these feelings by making the film’s main setting—a stately old mansion with much of the furniture covered in sheets and in a state of general disarray until Joy arrives—feel even more like a trap. Through careful lighting, costuming and production design, Joy’s life looks colorless until she steps into the house, but even then, she is not at home. There is a stifling unwelcome air that permeates every room, and every interaction with Katherine feels like she’s testing Joy. Combined, these efforts leave the viewer in a state of perpetual discomfort, bracing for the next impact or nasty surprise. “Raging Grace” is a thriller in every sense of the word. 

Between Joy, Grace, Katherine, and Mr. Garrett (David Hayman), Katherine’s great uncle she’s looking after, there’s a great game of shifting loyalties that intensifies the film’s suspense. Even as you feel you understand the dynamic between the four-person cast, there’s new information or a change that challenges what you think you know about these characters. As Joy and Grace, Eigenmann and Boadilla bring so much complexity to their performances, shouldering the weight of their characters’ pasts without the chance to speak of their pain until much later in the movie. It’s an incredible pairing of a mother-daughter duo against the world, including the racist employers who fail to see their humanity. 

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HomeReviewsRaging Grace movie review & film summary (2023)

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