Pitch-black pregnancy horror from Alice Lowe

Film Review by Michelle Devereaux | 05 Jun 2017
Film title: Prevenge
Director: Alice Lowe
Starring: Alice Lowe, Jo Hartley, Gemma Whelan, Kayvan Novak, Kate Dickie
Release date: 5 Jun
Certificate: 15

Writer-director Alice Lowe (Sightseers) makes her directorial debut with this highly discomfiting, darkly satirical slasher film. Lowe, who was heavily pregnant herself during the film’s shoot, stars as Ruth, a recently widowed Londoner urged by her unborn baby to kill what initially appears to be a collection of random people. Heard sporadically in voiceover (and voiced by Lowe, sounding like a Machiavellian Moaning Myrtle), Ruth’s foetus orders her mother to be “ruthless” when claiming victims, and the mother-to-be generally complies.

At first blush, Prevenge seems like a borderline simplistic female revenge-horror fantasy; Ruth’s first two male victims are self-aggrandising creeps who lay on ridiculous sexual innuendo or treat her purely as a means for their own pleasure. But by the time she violently confronts a female lawyer (Kate Dickie), the narrative waters become as muddied as they do bloody. The film also becomes increasingly more compelling, and Lowe’s early visual style of tight, shaky close-ups is exchanged for stylised sequences that complement the eerie, syncopated pitter-pats of the film’s electronic score, by Brighton-based duo Toydrum.

Ultimately, Prevenge emerges as a pitch-black send-up of the ‘miracle’ of pregnancy and childbirth. Here, the stereotypically glowing earth mother-goddess becomes the possessed avenging angel, ostensibly guided by the alien being residing in her stomach. This loss of autonomy is the true heart of the film’s horror, but ironically it serves as an excuse for Ruth to indulge her wildest fantasies of retribution. “You have absolutely no control of your mind or your body anymore,” Ruth’s midwife cheerfully announces before telling her it’s simply nature’s way. “I think nature’s a bit of a cunt though, isn’t it,” she replies. Despite bon mots like that, Prevenge isn’t as funny as you might expect it to be, but it is a sly and provocative example of an exciting new wave of female-led body horror.


Details not available at time of writing [Michelle Devereaux]

Released on DVD and Blu-ray by Kaleidoscope Entertainment