In Prevenge, Alice Lowe revisits the familiar grisly kill territory of Ben Wheatley’s brilliantly understated film Sightseers, which she co-wrote and starred in alongside Steve Oram. Directed, written and starring Lowe herself in the principle role, Prevenge is a hilarious black comedy charting the adventures of a heavily pregnant woman on a remorseless killing spree. Despite lacking the perfectionist skills of Laurie Rose’s exquisite cinematography, the film has a similar narrative tone to Sightseers and deals with similar themes of loneliness and female angst.
Ruth (Lowe) is a single heavily pregnant mother suffering from paranoid delusions and a conviction that her unborn baby is pushing to kill people. It soon transpires that Ruth has a list of names she is working her way through. From the self-important charisma-free-zone DJ Dan, played by the brilliant Tom Davis, to the devious pet shop owner (Dan Renton Skinner), no one is safe. However when Ruth finds herself face to face with ballsy career woman Ella (Kate Dickie), it becomes clear that this killing spree is no longer restricted to just men.
Lowe cuts a brilliantly unhinged figure, with the same determination as Frances McDormand in Fargo (Ethan and Joel Coen, 1996), only with more killing and less crime solving. Prevenge’s style might sound low-key to the point of seeming amateurish, but that is the whole point. The decision not to spare the more sympathetic characters illustrates that the film is far more than a simple serial killer story; it deals with ideas of pre- and post-partum depression. The fact that Lowe was herself heavily pregnant at the time is also a nice touch.
Despite its “kill heavy” narrative and occasionally ludicrous storyline, the film is one of the best 90 minutes you could spend at the cinema. Its dark and at times bleak humour doesn’t take away from Lowe’s singular acting and directorial style. And despite its low-key technical shortcomings, Prevenge delivers the message it set out to, along with plenty of of laugh-out-loud moments and gory mayhem.
By Linda Marric
Prevenge is out on February 10th.