Failing Grace comes from Concept Media and the team behind Don’t Fuck in the Woods. Maggie Novak lives with her younger sister Grace. Five years earlier, Jack Elligott, Maggie’s ex-boyfriend, became dangerously obsessed with Grace. His delusions became so out of control, he murdered the sisters’ parents and tried to kill Maggie. The two young women have been on the run since the tragedy.
Now, Jack has found them and he has had five long years to plan his next move. Writer and director Ryan Stacy’s suspense thriller brings a new approach to the revenge/stalker plot. Revenge is only the secondary motive. Jack is a sociopath who carries as much guilt about killing as a six year-old swatting flies. Instead, his obsession with Grace is his primary motivation. This elevates the formulaic stalker story and Jack’s sinister personality humanizes him.
On-location shoots can be difficult for cinematographers. Independent filmmakers rarely have access to a big-budget sound stage. Mr. Stacy and his team do a nice job with some difficult camera angles by creating an arthouse film atmosphere that does not feel claustrophobic.
The plot is interesting but lacks some significant detail. Failing Grace might have benefited from a little more background on the murders of the girls’ parents and the immediate aftermath. There are also some unnecessary scenes where several of the girls swoon over a handsome caretaker. It eases the mood and destroys the tension built up to that point in the story. The audience is forced to suspend some disbelief in any fictional film. In this case, Jack has not aged in five years, and even though he is her sister’s only ex-boyfriend, Grace has forgotten any previous interaction with him and finds him only vaguely familiar.
The acting is generally weak and some of the dialogue seems a little unnatural and misplaced. In what would be an intense moment, characters remain very stoic when any sane person would be scared to death. There are two standouts in the villains. Josh Miller (Jack) is genuinely convincing as the sadistic lunatic who will not stop until he gets what he thinks he deserves. Marylee Osborne also delivers a strong performance as Jack’s current girlfriend, Leona. She is crude, obnoxious and a lot of fun to watch.
The visual and make-up effects are minimal. Much of the gore associated with the deaths is implied. This is a nice touch that keeps the focus on the story and stays in line with the thriller plot rather than descending into an over-the-top slasher film.
Failing Grace has its flaws but the creative story, a particularly nasty villain and a couple of talented actors help hold interest.
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