TIFF Journal: ‘Prevenge’


Movie Rating:


When you see a pregnant woman, the first thoughts that come to mind are typically friendly and lovely. That’s exactly what writer/director/star Alice Lowe is hoping for in ‘Prevenge’. It’s not the message of her movie by a long shot. She just wants to toy with that cliché before delivering a pregnant woman turned serial killer (all the in the name of revenge of course, hence the title).

Don’t worry, it’s a comedy! The bleakest kind of comedy, though, one that slowly merges into horror. The movie’s not for everyone, certainly, but it will be beloved by a precious and disturbed few.

Lowe stars as Ruth, a troubled woman in about the eighth month of her pregnancy. She’s bulging, yet not exactly glowing. Unfortunately, her partner died shortly after putting that baby in her. Now she’s alone. Well, not entirely alone. The little gal inside of her starts speaking to Mommy and she’s not particularly friendly. She demands that Ruth kill those responsible for Daddy’s death. Ruth complies, slowly and with increasingly bizarre methods. At the same time, we also slowly learn the cause of the father’s death through each murder, and… well… the story will only get messier.

While that plot might not exactly scream out hilarity, Lowe most certainly finds laughs. The tone is quite similar to ‘Sightseers’, a film that she co-wrote and starred in. Her characters are horrible, but kind of charming in their monstrousness and deeply empathetic in their insanity. Her murdering mommy is a tragic figure. It’s hard not to feel for her and want to follow her, even as the bodies keep piling up. Lowe’s humor is deeply dark, but she also has a knack for finding the humanity within those twisted worlds and disturbed minds, even the victims who appear briefly in a splash of blood.

While Lowe has proven herself as writer and actress many times before, this is her first stab at directing and she handles it well. The movie looks great and plays brilliantly. Beyond her obvious love of genre cinema, the tale of how pregnancy transforms women is clearly personal and it resonates. (Lowe is actually with child on screen here, so here’s a home movie for the family to enjoy one day!) Granted, ‘Prevenge’ also feels weighed down by influence and a little slight, but not as much as most first features. This thing isn’t for everyone. Your sense of humor must be as sick as that of the filmmaker. But for those dark weirdoes like myself, this is a bitterly funny little pill to get excited about.

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