Goodnight, Gracie, a new short film written and directed by Stellan Kendrick, is a
creepy, beautifully filmed, horrific tale about faith, family, childhood fears, and things
that go bump in the night.
The cast and crew screening for Goodnight, Gracie, was held at Evidence Film Studios
in Los Angeles, a fantastic venue that the film’s producers had taken full advantage of.
Moody multi-colored lights everywhere, music pumping, specialty film-themed cocktails
flowing, clips of various well known, and not so well known horror films clips played on
the white cyclorama that took up the huge corner of the warehouse style space, and
concept art and storyboards covered the walls like a bloody murderous East Village art
show. There were about 100 people in attendance, dressed to the nines, laughing and
buzzing around the space, taking photos with the movie props in front of the faux brick
wall step-and-repeat with the ingenious self-taking photo set up. The air of excitement
and relief in the room that comes with the completion of such a large undertaking was
I was fortunate to be able to grab a moment with Stellan before the screening started. A
young graduate of UCLA film school, this is his third professional short film.
I wanted the film to evoke an emotion”, he said. “Lots of short films have inspired me, ‘Night Swim’ being one of them.” Stellan added “I wanted to have the quality of a feature in the short three and a half minutes of our film, so I used the best equipment, got the best cast and crew.”
He indeed succeeded. The film is beautiful looking. In our new digital world filled with
affordable cameras and equipment, I’ve grown accustomed to seeing projects that look
like “video” or lack the quality and richness of film. Not so with Goodnight, Gracie.
The moody lighting, playing with hues of nighttime blues and eerie yellows, creepy
shadows and darkness, immediately throw you into Gracie’s living nightmare. All the
boxes are ticked with this production, great special (and gory) effects and makeup,
brilliant score, (reminiscent of a Halloween and The Exorcist hybrid), and creepy
and fun end credits.
The film centers around young Gracie, (played to perfection by Caige Coulter), a
young only child, who lives with her mother and new stepfather. One night as Gracie
sleeps soundly in her room adorn with religious objects; her large bible as a pillow,
statues on her bedside, and a large crucifix on the wall, which trembles and shakes, and
finally spins upside down before falling to the floor. She’s startled awake by the sound of
her mother’s scream, followed by continued “thumping.” Grabbing her (my favorite
film’s attention to detail) Jesus Flashlight, she leaves her room and heads to the second
floor landing to find her mother covered in blood, and her stepfather (a perfectly
terrifying Courtney Gaines) standing above her body, wielding an axe. He sees Gracie and
continues the pounding of the axe blade into her mother as Gracie runs to her room,
locking the door and scrambling to her bed for safety. Grabbing the only protection she
knows, her Bible, she hides herself under her blanket and desperately begins quoting
Bible verses with the hopes of protecting herself. The thumping of his footsteps up the
stairs grow louder as the light from the hallway casts his shadow under the door. He stops only for a moment before heading off to retrieve the keys to her room. Gracie frantically searches for the passages that will save her, and as her voice gets louder and stronger, and her faith grows more powerful, her bedroom door swings open! She throws off her blanket and commands “In the name of Christ, get out!” All is silent. It’s over. She scans the room… And then–
I was really taken with Goodnight, Gracie and pleasantly surprised how much intensity
and emotion could be created in such a short period of time.
This from creator Stellan
Kendrick: “I wanted to convey a metaphor of faith, gods, and spirits, and that blind faith can lead to death.”
The creators are planning to hit the festival circuit this October and will have the film
available to the general public sometime next year. I highly recommend following their
social media and keeping an eye on this films journey.
Well, it’s been an amazingly fun, terrifying evening and I’ve got to get some nightmare
free sleep, so I’ll just say…”Goodnight, Gracie”.