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  • Rev Horror

Raging Grace

Dir. Paris Zarcilla (2023)

An undocumented Filipino immigrant takes housekeeping jobs in order to afford citizenship, but when she stumbles upon a terrible family secret at her next job, she finds her life, and that of her daughter, in danger.

Sins of the past are excellent fodder for movies in general, and now that the horror genre has begun to focus more intently on these cultural issues, there are many great examples of racial and social fears that have been brought to the forefront of the genre. While most American socially-focused horror is dedicated to the plight of the Black community or the disparity between social classes, British horror has, unfortunately, so many more people groups to choose from. A history of colonialism and the subjugation of non-White countries runs deep within the social fabric of the UK, and dealing with those original sins becomes extra important as the world becomes a more close-knit place. Raging Grace attempts to deal with the practice of hiring the undocumented as "the help" and all of the potential evils that are unleashed for a country that is still particularly fond of racial hegemony.

Joy (Max Eigenmann) is a housekeeper for hire, trying to save her money and afford citizenship for herself and her daughter Grace (Jaeden Paige Boadilla). She is hired by a woman named Katherine (Leanne Best) to become a caretaker for her mansion and her invalid grandfather Mr. Garrett (David Hayman). Joy begins to suspect that Katherine is keeping Mr. Garrett sick for her own nefarious purposes, but discovers there is far more beneath the surface once he begins to get better under her care.

Raging Grace does a good job of blending colonialist commentary with dark familial horror, delivering a critique of the racial disparities in the UK while occasionally becoming a bit too on-the-nose. The acting performances are excellent, with Eigenmann and Boadilla giving a heart-wrenching portrayal of desperate immigrants and Hayman especially showing the dark side of modern indentured servitude. The filmmaking, a first effort by director Paris Zarcilla, is adept and crafty, showing a lot of promise for a young career that will be worth keeping an eye on.

The film struggles at times to be actually scary, but the potential realism inherent to the plot absolutely should be. As easy as it would be to ignore the societal ills at the heart of the film, Zarcilla hits them head on in a story that feels both heartfelt and disturbing. It's an intriguing debut, and its one that doesn't fully hit its stride, but it feels like there's more beneath the surface begging to be told. While Raging Grace never quite plumbs those depths, its a competently built and expertly shot story that manages to fulfill its promises without compromising its social integrity.

Who this film is for: UK horror fans, Slow burn horror lovers, Pharmaceutical sales reps

Bottom line: Saving Grace is a well-made flick that manages to tell an interesting story without becoming too overwhelmed with its message. It also at times feels like the scolding narrative overpowers the film itself. The excellent performances and the adept direction, however, manage to save it from becoming a caricature of itself along the way. It's a good film, one that will hopefully find its audience, and it promises an excellent career for newcomer director Zarcilla. It's On Demand now, and you should definitely give it a shot.

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