Written and Directed by Alice Lowe.
Starring Alice Lowe, Jo Hartley, Gemma Whelan, Kate Dickie, Tom Davis, Kayvan Novak, Mika Wozniak, and Della Moon Synott.
Widow Ruth is seven months pregnant when, believing herself to be guided by her unborn baby, she embarks on a homicidal rampage, dispatching anyone who stands in her way.
It takes a lot of bravery and undeniable talent to direct, write, and star in one’s own film, but to do it while seven months pregnant? That’s entering a whole new echelon of dedicated filmmaking and long sleepless nights, but a creative decision that most definitely adds another layer to the supremely twisted comedy and gory slasher murders surrounding underrated British actress Alice Lowe’s feature debut Prevenge.
Drawing influence from such revered masterpieces like Rosemary’s Baby, Prevenge devilishly plays with the concept of unborn babies talking their motherly hosts into all sorts of nefarious acts. And right off the bat, I will admit that it is incredibly frustrating that there is no police investigation of sorts looking into the pile of dead bodies Ruth (Alice Lowe) is tallying (as if she were the female, pissed off pregnant Michael Myers) but there is a delirious sense of glee from basking in the bloodsoaked ordeal. That’s probably because some of Ruth’s victims do deserve punishment; maybe not full on murder, but it’s hard to sympathize with misogynistic sex fiends or potential liars. Furthermore, who doesn’t love sadistically seeing a womanizer get his ding dong chopped clean off. For such little screen time, Alice Lowe is highly skilled at giving each minor character a distinct personality and some sort of relevance to the overall narrative.
Thankfully, Prevenge isn’t solely concerned with just shock value, as there are notable emotional and artistic touches exploring the mental state of Ruth. There’s always the lingering question of whether she is just having a mental breakdown or if the film does take place in a warped version of our world where vengeful unborn babies capable of communicating verbally with their host do exist. Is Ruth spiraling into insanity as a coping mechanism for grievance over the loss of her husband, and using the supernatural communication as a justification for going on a killing spree against all involved. or is there truly something sinister going on?
There are also deep metaphors at play to take into consideration, such at the nature of pregnancy which dictates that the host essentially surrenders control of their body as they bring innocent (well, not so innocent in this disturbing case) life into the world. Regardless of what is actually going on, these themes are touched upon intelligently by combining pitch black humor (there’s a scene involving a pair of boxing gloves that is just to die for) with a consistent stream of death (Prevenge is most certainly paced well as it equally examines mental health and how many sickening ways Alice Lowe can kill off supporting characters) as Ruth picks off her targets one by one.
On top of all that, Prevenge is a beautifully shot film that is interested in capturing death and sorrow from captivating angles (some visuals are melancholy beauty, while the ending is also quite an unforgettable shot of pure crazy) as much as it is showing the acts of violence itself. Some of the best moments of the film are quiet scenes depicting Ruth scribbling down information on her victims inside a baby journal, setting the stage for some good old-fashioned prevenge. Incredible sound design also cannot be ignored, as Prevenge booms a synthesized electronic score that fits into the killing in the same fashion of John Carpenter’s theme for Michael Myers. Even the voice of the unborn baby is multilayered and delivered with precision by Della Moon Synnott, using an innocent tone to demand Ruth to engage in evil activities. Similar to the rest of the movie, their conversations are a perfect marriage of dark humor and unnerving creepiness.
Still, Prevenge is the child of Alice Lowe, and whether it’s behind the camera or in front of it, she clearly understands what she is doing. Her performance as Ruth successfully hits all of the notes that her richly layered script strives for, while her direction makes the film pop alive as something fiercely dark with an appreciated degree of black comedy. Ignoring the ridiculousness and implausibility of some of Prevenge from a conceptual standpoint, what’s left is demented entertainment.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★