‘Tired of waiting, tired of watching, negotiating, parading around…’
~They Might Be Giants, Prevenge
Prevenge is the latest film from writer and actor Alice Lowe in her directorial debut. Inspired by a lack of roles and her very real pregnancy, Lowe set out to write something suited perfectly to herself and her current state. Billed as a horror comedy, Lowe, best known for her role on ‘Gareth Marenghi’s Dark Place’, has crafted a queasy washed out delight.
When we meet Alice Lowe’s Ruth, she is very pregnant and very troubled. Able to care for herself, she is a strong character influenced by the voice of her unborn fetus to enact the titular Prevenge, against those who wronged her departed husband in an unfortunate circumstance of fast judgement. The film is darkly humorous, striking very specific chords that may or may not land for a general audience. There are very few flat out jokes in favor of gallows-humor situations that will rock you gently enough to turn your stomach as you find yourself holding back the lurch to get a laugh out. That’s not to say this film is a complete gross-out festival, though a few scenes will take you there, pulling you right back out again.
Lowe has crafted a film that toes the line of several genres, but lies most comfortably in the mumblecore category. For such a set course of action, there is human room on the screen, nothing lingers, but everything lingers. The colors are washed out, making Ruth’s signature red dress stand out all the more, much like a pregnant woman practically anywhere. It is a not-so-subtle visual cue that gives us insight into both the character and a bit of Lowe’s own personal feelings, unable to find immediate work being so pregnant.
Another curious touch is Ruth’s conflict not only with the world and herself, but with the prevengeful child yet to be born. Where a mother to be might read or sing to her unborn, Ruth addresses her little one with concern or flat out anger. It is clear from the very beginning who is in charge. Lowe captures some of the trappings that being pregnant and in entertainment must give rise to for so many women. Alice is the creator as well as the instrument, in control but very much not in control. The duality of real life and the reality Alice has crafted is evident throughout and gives a further depth to the film beyond a simple plot device for a gory pay off, as we so often see within the horror genre today.
Though quietly shocking and simple, I found Prevenge to be a refreshing step in the right direction for horror comedy, it embraces the best of both without giving too much in one area in favor of the other. This is black comedy at it’s finest, here’s hoping Alice Lowe will continue to write and direct in the future, her’s is a voice we need to hear.