Sightseers remains a BS favourite from one of our first LFF experiences so spotting Alice Lowe’s name all over this revenge flick really made us pay attention. Writing, directing and starring, Prevenge (damn my autocorrect) will leave you in no doubt just how dark Lowe’s humour is. This is something we are very much on board with.
Lowe is Ruth, a seemingly normal, average pregnant woman who we first meet searching for an ominously sinister pet in an equally creepy pet shop, hosted by a decidedly odd owner. It’s not long before the creeping tension explodes though and we’re soon under absolutely no illusions as to what Ruth is capable of. Little do we realise at that point though that we haven’t seen the half of it. Ruth it would appear has a list. A list you better hope you aren’t on. Cajoled by some damn creepy voices from her womb, Ruth is on a mission…
To reveal must more about the plot would be a shame so I’ll leave it there but suffice to say, it’s not going to end well for a whole bunch of people. Fusing pitch black humour with an extraordinary central performance from the seven months pregnant Lowe, this is some dark, dark ground. As an audience we are given little background information, leading to our moral perspective to be as un-anchored as Ruth’s. At no point are we sure that her retribution is righteous so the laughs brought out by the horrific contrast between Ruth’s overall ordinariness and her slick, efficient dispatching of her victims have an extra, uncomfortable edge to them.
The comparisons with Sightseers (co-written by Lowe) are obvious but somehow Lowe manages to out nasty even that movie. The sinister voice from Ruth’s womb is as terrifying as it is hilarious but Lowe manages to keep her character grounded enough for us to avoid merely labelling her as a psychopath and moving on. Indeed, from conversations with friends who have had kids (this half of BS being the one lacking a womb), much of what occurs here is just a massively extreme version of thoughts many pregnant women will have had.
Prevenge is a movie that delights in keeping you uncomfortable as you squirm between savage humour and even more savage knife blows. As soon as one character, referring to employment opportunities, comments that they ‘…have had to make cuts’, your eyes will search the cinema, desperate to see anything other than what you know will follow. You will find yourself compelled to watch though. Dark as all hell, laugh out loud funny, morally unlatched and unflinchingly brutal, this is a magnificent directorial debut from one brilliantly dark mind.