Writer and Director: Alice Lowe
Review by Tracey Francis
A dark British comedy based on a pregnant, homicidal and raging woman is the basis of Prevenge.
Alice Lowe who wrote, directed and stars in Prevenge, said that she “submitted a one-page pitch to a production company about a pregnant widow violently avenging the death of her husband, she was pretty sure it was a non-starter. ‘I thought the company would say: ‘No, we can’t get insurance, that would be ridiculous,’ she says. ‘And when they went: ‘OK, let’s do it’, I was like: ‘What?!'” (The Guardian, 14 February 2017)
Ruth, the protagonist in Prevenge, is suffering from a form of prenatal psychosis and this does not seem the recipe for comedy, but it works because Ruth is so convincing as a woman who genuinely believes her unborn child is instructing her to murder. The unborn baby’s father has died and the viewer is not totally sure how, but this makes Ruth feel the world is against her for this. The characters that Ruth murders on her rampage are a mixture of people we are familiar with in independent films – an ageing DJ who has delusions of grandeur, to a creepy pet shop owner who likes to use innuendos, such as showing Ruth a snake for a pet and then says, ‘that is my big fat snake.’ Surprisingly her slightly stern midwife who informs her that ‘you have absolutely no control over your mind and body anymore’ manages to survive any threat of an attack.
Prevenge is very quirky and manages to bring in the macabre in an every day setting. The viewer can image walking past a character like Ruth without realising in a split second you could upset the controlling baby/Ruth and then you are next on her murder list. Pregnancy is a bountiful theme for any genre but horror and pregnancy is a difficult concept to digest at times because it is symbolic of womanhood, life, death and the unknown. However, Lowe has not come to this genre of dark comedic horror as a novice, because she was one of the writers and actors in Sightseers (2012, directed by Ben Wheatley). So you get a feeling that Lowe enjoys the dark side, so it will be interesting to watch how work develops. In Prevenge Lowe manages to pull off pregnancy, comedy and horror in an eccentric British fashion.
Bechdel Test: Pass – Ruth has a relationship with her midwife and murders two women that she has had a conversation with!
Women in Film rating: 4 stars
Useful Film References:
Rosemary’s Baby (1968, dir. Roman Polanski)
Second Coming (2014, dir. Debbie Tucker Green)