I caught this four-minute short called Goodnight Gracie, which was
written and directed by Stellan Kendrick. Come to find out, Goodnight, Gracie's world premiere will be at the Sitges 2017 Film Festival, which runs from October 5th to October 15th. Then Goodnight, Gracie is off to be the opening film at the San Antonio Horrific Film Festival in Texas (October 20th) and after that, it will be presented at the NYC Horror Film Festival (October 29th).
Gracie, an eight-year-old little girl, hears her parents fighting downstairs, which is nothing new. It's when Gracie hears her mother's blood-curdling scream that she decides to go take a look. Looking down the stairs, Gracie sees her mother... chopped to bits and her stepdad covered in blood and holding an ax. Quickly, Gracie runs to her room to hide and starts praying to Jesus to save her.
Now, Kendrick calls this short a cautionary tale about blind faith. He said the short film sprang out of the turmoil he went through while dealing with his parent's divorce and the night terrors that came from it. He switched out himself for the little girl, and added a theme to the story, which was "blind faith leads to doom". Kendrick said “If you want to deal with your troubles, prayers aren’t enough. You’ve got to take action. If one person sees this short and makes a change in their life, I’ve done my job.” As for me, I'm fully on board with that. I believe we should deal with our troubles, but I don't think this short fully solid that idea.
I think one of the things that hurt the film is its running time, four minutes wasn't enough to fully buy what Kendrick was selling. Also, I didn't feel like Gracie was giving a solid chance to do anything differently. It's an eight-year-old kid versus a grown adult... with an axe. Gracie had nowhere to really run to and axe man was dead on her heels. While I understand what Kendrick was going for, I felt like this story wasn't a good argument for it. If you want to show people how they need to take charge then you need to show them someone that isn't boxed into a corner with nowhere to go. An eight-year-old isn't going to have a good fight or flight mentality when staring at a bloody, axe carrying individual. Now, I am a person of faith, but I also believe a lot of things can and should be dealt with by our own hands, which is why I like the idea Kendrick is going for. I just think he fell short of the finish line with this one.
I will say the playthrough was amazing. It has a slow build up that gives great insight on the Gracie character's upbringing. Does a killer job at building the suspense and fully pays off on the horror side of things.
They did a great job with the casting. Goodnight, Gracie stars Caige Coulter, Courtney Gains, Zoë Simpson Dean and Brad Goodman. First off, Coulter was amazing! For an eight-year-old, I was seriously impressed with Coulter's acting abilities and how she carried the weight of the main role with no signs of stress. Next up is one of my favorite actors, Courtney Gains, who's been in a bunch of great films like The Burgs (1989), Children of the Corn (1984), Sweet Home Alabama (2002) and has also done a ton of television spots. The great thing about Gains is he has the ability to come off super friendly or completely crazy. I'm not going to lie, being blood covered and swinging an ax helps one pull off the look of a crazed killer, but it's the look in Gains' eyes and his demeanor that sold it.
The special effects looked really good. There's a quick bit of blood and gore that hits before the credits and I thought what they did with the end title scene was brilliant.
Overall, the story is good, but the visuals and acting were the best.
GOODNIGHT, GRACIE Teaser Trailer from Stellan Kendrick on Vimeo.