Why Grace Matters: An Open Letter to Anchor Bay
I wanted to write this letter on behalf of the movie Grace that I not only have had the distinct pleasure in getting to cover for the last nine months but also screened twice while attending the Sundance Film Festival last week.
As a horror journalist, let me first say that a movie like Grace is a rare find in terms of genre fare. More often than not, horror films these days fall into the remake, sequel, or the just plain unimaginative realm. Most lack passion and are driven purely from a profitability standpoint. What I can say is that Grace is none of these things. Grace is undoubtedly what the horror industry needs right now.
I attended both the premiere screening and the screening the following Saturday evening. The audience response at both screenings was in itself something to behold. I can’t remember the last time I watched a movie and could audibly detect just how affected an audience was by the movie they were watching. Everyone walking out of both looked as if they’d been shaken to their very core.
What’s important to note is that these two audiences were pretty much polar opposites; midnight audiences generally contain those people who crave very different and sometimes “shocking” films whereas the second screening was filled with more of your typical “middle of road” viewers. In fact, one gentleman stood up during the second Q & A and said that he didn’t even know Grace was a horror film when he got his ticket but stayed riveted in his seat the entire movie.
Having audiences from both ends of the spectrum clearly speaks volumes for just how powerful Grace is. This is a movie that not only crawls under your skin, but relentlessly digs in throughout the whole experience until the end when you are left sitting in that theater completely unraveled by what you’ve just seen. Frankly, you just can’t get the film out of your mind. It’s been a week, and I still have certain aspects of it lodged in my brain because Grace is that impactful.
I understand that in the past you’ve had some experience with really distributing features into theaters successfully, recent examples including Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon and Hatchet, so please understand that I don’t say any of the following with any disrespect.
Both of those films were high-quality and inventive offerings that while they’ve been immensely successful for you as DVD titles, I think they both were capable of much more theatrically had they’d been given wider releases. I am just imploring you to realize that Grace has a theatrical audience out there and that you need to get this film into theatres so that viewers can appreciate the film the way it deserves: on a big screen.
The key to releasing Grace theatrically, though, is to get it on as many screens as possible, and not let it flame out in two weeks, which is what happens with most standard non-blockbuster films these days. Grace is a word-of-mouth kind of film and if handled the same way Magnet Releasing recently rolled out Let the Right One In, you’d be allowing Grace the ability to build momentum and really find the viewers that I know are out there.
It’s no secret that the American horror genre has been pretty thin on new and original films over the last few years, with very few bright spots to speak of. There has been a general lack of intelligent horror movies that not only speaks to both genre fans but to general audiences as well. I honestly feel that down the road Grace will be mentioned as one of the “measuring sticks” in terms of the modern horror movement, comparable to horror masterpieces of the past, like The Shining, The Exorcist, and Rosemary’s Baby.
You’ve been given a remarkable gift with Grace. All I can do at this point is hope that you realize that and give this move its proper due and that you don’t just ship it off as a “direct-to-DVD” release. It deserves better than that and so do audiences who are looking for quality movies.
Those of us who work in the horror industry often complain that lately all we’re offered is horrible, bland, and gratuitous material; why not be different, Anchor Bay, and release Grace which will undoubtedly be one of the most inventive films of 2009? This allows you the opportunity to stand out from all the other studios who either pander to the lower denominator by giving audiences low-quality movies or those who create inventive films and either bury them or don’t release them all-together.
Please allow theater-going audiences across the board the chance to embrace Grace, a film that clearly has the ability to redefine your company and the horror genre for years to come.
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