Writer/director Paris Zarcilla’s U.K. feature Raging Grace (2023) combines social commentary about class divisions with classic elements of both British horror and British farce.
Joy (Max Eigenmann) is a Filipina working illegally as a house cleaner in London, sleeping in different houses with her young daughter Grace (Jaeden Paige Boadilla) when she knows the owners are away. Joy is trying to raise money for a man to supposedly get her U.K. citizenship, and he is getting impatient with her inability to come up with the amount he demands. Meanwhile, while checking in on an elderly man named Mr. Garrett (David Hayman) as a favor to her pastor, she is offered a live-in job by Garrett’s niece Katherine (Leanne Best) that pays a high rate, with the expectation that Joy will keep mum about the goings-on in the abode. Joy sneaks Grace — who has a decidedly naughty and curious streak about her — into the house in a suitcase, and the mother and daughter uncover secrets separately and together that make for a suspenseful film with a solid climax.
Zarcilla has crafted a multilayered thriller-and-chiller that is wonderfully woven together, with surprises, tension, and comic relief aplenty. Joy is a highly relatable character, and Eigenmann delivers a top-notch performance. Boadilla is splendid as Joy’s inquisitive daughter, who feels unlistened to by her mother, while Hayman and Best provide excellent support. Raging Grace gives viewers plenty to chew on while delivering a terrific update to old-school British horror.
Raging Grace screens as part of Fantasia, which takes place in Montreal, Canada from July 20–August 9, 2023.