Raging Grace

A film battling between two different threads results in a mixed, but bold experience.

Synopsis: An undocumented Filipina immigrant lands a job as a care-worker for a terminal old man, securing a better life for her and her daughter. But a dark discovery threatens to destroy everything she’s strived for and holds dear.

The first half of Raging Grace operates as a ghost story, both in the camera’s exploration of every nook and cranny of the old house Joy (Max Eigenmann) finds herself in and the experience of Grace (Jaeden Paige Boadilla), who is moved into the house in secret. As an immigrant, Joy faces discrimination and instability, taking jobs that she is unable to fully rely on so when she is offered work with accommodation she jumps at the chance. However, the home’s inhabitants, Katherine (Leanne Best) and terminally ill Mr Garrett (David Hayman) seem to be hiding dark secrets.

That early setup is dripping in atmosphere, swapping from the fast-paced, choppy edited scenes of Joy hard at work during the day to the long, slow creeps through the creaky dark house at night. Yes, the familiar moments of silence into loud stings are present, but it still feels genuinely spooky, coupled with the constant threat of Grace’s discovery.

A later shift in the film ups the energy and, unfortunately, loses some of that hard-won atmosphere. The further away the film drifts from Joy and Grace as the focus, the less cohesive it feels and the more divorced from the layers of exploitation laid out early on. There are several references to Rudyard Kipling, ranging from poetry quotes peppered throughout the film to props like a bottle of Rudyard’s Shampoo visible in the bathroom. Kipling’s endorsement of imperialism, especially at the cost of Filipino people is particularly relevant to the film’s themes, presented playfully at times, deservedly in contrast to the weightier way it treats Joy’s life.

Raging Grace introduces an interesting visual voice in director-writer Paris Zarcilla, showing an ability to capture sinister high-energy melodrama and tense sequences in addition to brighter, movement-rich scenes. Although the contrast of them within the same film may be too much at times, there is a serious level of technical skill on display.

Some of the elements may not quite gel, but Raging Grace still functions as an interesting tale of inequality in modern Britain, sustained by allegiance to a damaging legacy over humanity with great performances to sell it.

3 out of 5 stars

3 out of 5 stars

Raging Grace screened as part of SXSW 2023.

Author: ScaredSheepless

Film and television fan, with a particular love for horror.

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