UK Release Date: 5th June 2017
Runtime: 87 minutes
Director: Alice Lowe
Writer: Alice Lowe
Starring: Alice Lowe, Kayvan Novak, Jo Hartley, Kate Dickie, Gemma Whelan, Dan Renton Skinner, Tom Davis
Synopsis: A pregnant woman is driven to wreak bloody, violent revenge when the unborn child begins to issue murderous commands.
British comic actress Alice Lowe made a big splash back in February when her serial killer horror-comedy Prevenge hit cinemas. Lowe had conceived, written, directed and starred in the movie whilst heavily pregnant with her daughter Della, who makes a cameo in the film’s final moments. The movie has now arrived on DVD and Blu-ray and it remains a delightfully off-kilter horror movie with a terrific central conceit, executed deftly by Lowe, who skillfully brings her vision to the screen. It’s equal parts cautionary tale about the madness of motherhood and love letter to the inherent weirdness of pregnancy.
Ruth (Lowe) is heavily pregnant and bereaved following the death of the baby’s father in a climbing accident. With the voice of the unborn child egging her on, she mounts a brutal and calculated campaign to kill off those she believes are responsible for her partner’s death, including lecherous DJ Dan (Tom Davis), weirdo reptile shop owner Mr Zabek (Dan Renton Skinner) and uptight boss Ella (Kate Dickie). While her midwife (Jo Hartley) assures Ruth she can get through it, her mental state frays as she gets closer to climbing instructor Tom (Kayvan Novak), who made a crucial decision on the day in question.
Prevenge remains a witty and sharp take on the changes that occur during the course of pregnancy and Lowe’s unique decision to make the film while expecting a child herself gives the entire film a sense of realism it would not otherwise have had. That realism is aided by the guerrilla shooting style, with many sequences shot by Lowe and just one or two members of crew on the streets of London and Cardiff. In these scenes, we are welcomed into Lowe’s nightmares and the entire film emerges as a kaleidoscopic journey through a mind experiencing the twin horrors of mourning and pregnancy.
This is every inch Lowe’s film. She is in almost every frame of the movie and revels in the range of different personas she is able to portray as Ruth stalks her victims. Whether she’s a Welsh charity worker or a disco-loving clubber making eyes at the rotund, misogynist DJ, Lowe gives 110 per cent to all of the different sides of Ruth and also delivers a delightfully odd vocal performance as the acerbic voice of the foetus growing within her. It’s a real showcase for Lowe, who plays everything from broad comedy to sinister horror via bracing realism all within the same film.
That’s not to say that Prevenge is a perfect movie. The stalk-and-slash structure inevitably gives the film something of an episodic feel and the central disaster that prompts Ruth’s killing spree is never quite fleshed out in a fully satisfying way. However, any storytelling shortcomings are more than made up for by the strong performances from a wide array of comedy character actors and the bizarre tone Lowe does a stellar job of bringing about through direction that is inventive and accomplished, particularly as it’s Lowe’s debut feature.
What’s most impressive about Prevenge from the start is its accomplishment surrounding the tone. This is a film that features horrific murder, bereavement and pregnancy-themed comedy all at once – and often even in the same scene. Prevenge could easily have been a grim murder movie, but it instead has an admirable lightness of touch that keeps it feeling breezy even as the gore flows at regular intervals. By the time the credits roll, you’ll be spooked and smiling in equal measure.
To hear more about Prevenge from Alice Lowe herself, check out my interview with the very busy writer-director-star, in which we talk about balancing comedy and horror, fear of parenthood and competing with the new Fifty Shades of Grey film.
There’s a fun and illuminating audio commentary with Alice Lowe and several other members of the crew, as well as a behind the scenes doc that is entertaining, if a little brief.
Pop or Poop?
Multi-hyphenate star Alice Lowe does an impressive job as she juggles a number of plates, while pregnant, to produce a comedy-horror that works on both sides of that particular equation.
Prevenge is a smart and silly movie that creates a nightmarish tone while never scrimping on the laughs, held together by Lowe at the height of her not inconsiderable comedy powers and a supporting roster of very talented performers.
Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments section.
Prevenge is available on Blu-ray and DVD in the UK from Monday, courtesy of Kaleidoscope Entertainment.