REVIEW: Goodnight, Gracie
– By Dave Cliffe
Are you tucked-in okay? Horror short, Goodnight, Gracie aims to unnerve those who often wonder what might happen if one is woken in the middle of the night to something strange and horrific. Well, this is the case with young, little Gracie (Caige Coulter) who awakens to find the grace of God might not be present, when she hears loud noises emanating from downstairs in the house.
What works so well for Goodnight, Gracie, are the performances; Coulter is excellent as the protagonist, as her delivery is both mature and a captivating one – she wouldn’t seem out of place in a Hollywood blockbuster. However, the real surprise is seeing Courtney Gains as the ominous man; his turn as one of the mysterious and downright funny neighbouring Klopeks from The Burbs (1989) is one of childhood’s most memorable film characters. Here, Gains nefariously-snarls his way into the centre of the feature and never lets go, right up until the closing seconds.
Faith and consequence are thematic aspects at the forefront of Goodnight, Gracie, and instigate the coda of horror that ensues. The overt use of religious imagery would need to be more subtle and nuanced if part of a feature-length film, however, Goodnight, Gracie is very short, and thus, it needs to quickly deliver shock and horror to the audience; for the most part it does, and this is often difficult for 3 minute features.
For some, Goodnight, Gracie will horrify and upset, but those privy to the horror genre will find the final, climatic scene slightly contrived and conspicuous; it needed to add a greater sense of surprise to really floor the audience; jump scares these days need to come from a place that people will not know it will be coming. It is just a slight shame that the final shot was noticeably-expected.
However, do not let this distract you from a very solid and well-constructed horror short. Goodnight, Gracie comes across as a scene from within a bigger picture, and one that could be part of a broader, unsettling tapestry of religion and horror. If such an expansion was to grace the screens, one would certainly be in line to check it out.