Chances are that you’ll not see anything that is as bold, as different, and as darkly comic as Alice Lowe’s Prevenge for at least the rest of the year. The actor-writer-director who’s perhaps most famous for her work on Ben Wheatley’s Sightseers, confidently cements herself as an extraordinary talent with this weird-but-wonderful story of a pregnant woman on a murder rampage, guided by the demands of her unborn child.
If the synopsis sounds twisted, that’s because it is. From scene one, set within a pet shop full of lizards, snakes and all manner of creepy bugs, Lowe creates an instant sense of unease as her character, Ruth, stalks her first victim. One of many, her first target is a creepy male (again, one of many) who constantly turns their conversation about ‘long, slimey snakes’ into innuendos.
The film wears its feminism proudly on its blood-soaked sleeve, at one point even going so far as to attack a character’s manhood both figuratively and literally. This is a film about being a woman, about being a mother, and all the emotions, fears and injustices that come along with the territory – and that in and of itself is wonderful to watch.
The film is hilarious in a middle-of-the-night black comedy kind of way, but isn’t for the faint-hearted. No punches are pulled in terms of the gore and the cinema screen is often splashed with blood, surprisingly impactful for a film with such a low budget. There will be plenty of moments where you’ll want to watch it through the gaps of your fingers.
Lowe’s writing is as sharp as the blade her character kills with, delivered with deadpan genius by the lead actress and the rest of her supporting cast. There are many highlights to choose from, but perhaps the film’s biggest triumph is a sequence in which Ruth seduces one of her victims, the balding and middle-aged DJ Dan, still too young to settle down, which is altogether disturbing and laugh-out-loud funny. So much so that it’ll stay with me long after seeing it, whether I want it to or not.
But for all of its dark humour, Prevenge ultimately ends on a serious note, revealing facts about the lead character that take the story to an unexpectedly sad and melancholic conclusion. And it’s the fact that the film manages to keep surprising you right until its very final moment is one of the many reasons that it stands out as such a great piece of work. What’s most impressive, however, is the fact that Alice Lowe managed to have achieved all of this whilst truly heavily pregnant, pretty much working on the post-production whilst cradling her new born baby.
There are certainly some minor issues, most of which do stem from the film’s budget. These are easily overlooked though, through the sheer uniqueness of the project. It’s brilliant performed satire that constantly leaves you unsure of what’s going to come next, and, on a personal note, it’s pretty great to see the streets of my home city, Cardiff, feature in the film’s final few moments when Ruth braves a night out on the town. Now that is terrifying thought…
Image credit to http://www.impawards.com