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‘Prevenge’ (review)

Produced by Jennifer Handorf,
Will Kane, Vaughan Sivell
Written and Directed by Alice Lowe
Starring Alice Lowe, Gemma Whelan,
Kate Dickie, Jo Hartley

 

Writer/director/star Alice Lowe was actually seven months pregnant while filming her horror/comedy Prevenge, a distinction which the gives the film an added edge.

Lowe stars as Ruth, a very pregnant woman who takes direction from her unborn daughter who seemingly speaks to her telepathically. The majority of the tyke-to-be’s demands are of the murderous sort, and most of the targets are people she feels are responsible for the death of Ruth’s boyfriend, Matt, who was also the baby’s father.

Prevenge follows Ruth as she becomes a highly unlikely serial killer, with a fair amount of gore thrown into the mix.

Lowe also co-wrote and starred in Sightseers which, I’ve been told (I’ve yet to see it), would make a fine companion piece to this film, both in terms of content and tone.

Here, she makes her feature directing debut, and she does a fine job. The whole is lesser than the sum of its parts, however: there are some terrific scenes (as well as a few not-so-terrific ones) and the initially annoying tone becomes more of a plus than a debit as discomfort reaches the breaking point and we welcome the inevitable violence.

However, when the end credits rolled, I felt a bit cheated. The ending almost renders the film a shaggy-dog joke (not quite, but almost); at the very least, the film kind of had the feel of a fever dream of a reluctant mother-to-be, but little else beyond that.

Still, that’s enough to make Prevenge worth a watch. Lowe – and everyone else – hits the right tone as a woman seemingly possessed. A fair amount of humor falls flat, but there is some wonderfully pitch-black humor that is spot-on.

Also, most of the kills are truly brutal, and seeing a very pregnant woman inflicting said brutality is both unsettling and amusing.

An excellent score by Toydrum is also quite effective here, by turns driving, melancholy and wistful.
While Prevenge doesn’t hold a candle to other “women-going-mad” movies such as In My Skin or Possession, it is worth a look. And who knows? Perhaps you’ll see a theme or strong point that I missed. Even lacking a discernable point, Prevenge is more than worthwhile for those with a penchant for black comedy.

 

Prevenge opens today at the IFC Center in New York
and The Cinefamily in Los Angeles, and will be available to
stream nationwide on Shudder, on March 24th

 

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