Blimey… If you’ve heard of pre-baby blues symptoms, then you ain’t seen nothing yet when comes to Prevenge, the twisted, slasher, pregnancy romp hatched from the creatively subversive mind of actress and writer Alice Lowe, who also makes her directorial debut here. Lowe stars as Ruth, a heavily pregnant mother-to-be, who recently lost her partner, and starts hearing the voices of her unborn child that is urging her to kill. Sure enough, she becomes a serial killer and goes on a killing spree, and the more people she kills, the more we learn about her, and as a result, she begins checking out of the realms of reality and sanity. Like Ben Wheatley, Lowe takes a rose-tinted view on a particular subject matter that inspires joy (in this case: pregnancy) and completely turns it on its head whilst splattering it with blood and carnage. This clearly has echoes of Wheatley’s Sightseers (which Lowe also starred in and wrote for), which in itself was a twisted, deranged spin on caravanning in the Lake District.
While it’s easy to compare this with Sightseers, this is less comedic than that film and a bit more melancholic and nihilistic, as signified by Ruth and her actions. Her victims are mostly comprised of people who seem to shun the notions of parenthood and favour hobbies that are alien to her, which is why she offers no ounce of sympathy for her victims’ selfishness. However, it’s over the course of the film we discover these little hints and clues as to why she’s behaving the way she is, what happened to her husband and what her true motivations are. Along the way, questions are being raised to which you may not quite know the answers. Is she targeting misogynists? Does she have this deep-rooted rage driving her? Is it really the baby talking to her or she developing a split personality? This is a film that is so vague, it allows for some intriguing story developments, and plaudits to Lowe for maintaining that level of intrigue and mystery.
Despite the carnage and mayhem that’ll surely leave audiences aghast, there is some genuine humanity behind it all. Most of which comes during Ruth’s conversations with her midwife, who really acts like Ruth’s emotional anchor and sort of her beacon of sanity in what she thinks is a messed up world. Throughout the film, we see Ruth continuously recalling the Three Furies sequence from the 1934 drama Crime Without Passion, which symbolises Ruth almost becoming one herself to act against sinners. There are also shades of Roman Polanski’s Rosemary’s Baby, which was also a film about a woman who is both fascinated and terrified in equal measure by the thought of growing a complete and utter stranger inside her own body. Ryan Eddleston’s cinematography is very atmospheric and haunting, which is also reflected in Toydrum’s electronically eerie score.
Prevenge is a surreal, messed-up thrill ride that walks that very fine line of jet-black comedy and melancholic horror with its bloody nature guaranteed to leave you genuinely shocked and surprised. Granted this film isn’t going to appeal to everyone’s tastes and it’s a film that is rough around the edges, but what Alice Lowe has achieved is something to be marvelled at, despite how twisted and demented it can get. Lowe’s performance is flawless, and this film demonstrates that she’s a real subversive talent that’s always exciting to watch, even when she submerges herself into the dark side of comedy and life.
REVENGE / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR & SCREENPLAY: ALICE LOWE / STARRING: ALICE LOWE, GEMMA WHELAN, KATE DICKIE / RELEASE DATE: 10TH FEBRUARY
Expected rating: 7/10