Extreme horror comedy might be a stretch for some audiences, but Alice Lowe‘s directorial debut packs punches, and some. The narrative conceit may be a big ask… but if you get past that you are in for a 90 minute onslaught of the senses. Alice Lowe’s previous writing work includes several shorts, and ‘Sightseers‘ – the Ben Wheatley film in which Lowe also plays the lead.
‘Prevenge‘ follows a pregnant woman whose unborn baby is instructing her to kill people. Deeper than that we get some glimpses of a back story revealing details about the fathers death. It becomes difficult to say much more without getting a tad spoilerific… yet the structure is precise in it’s approach. Ruth (played by Lowe) is agitated, troubled, and psychotic in turn.
The performances are first class all round. Jo Hartley is the midwife Ruth visits throughout the feature. The sharp dialogue is most evident in these health check scenes, the harshness of it all is articulated perfectly by the lead. Elsewhere there are great stand alone performances from Dan Skinner, Tom Davis, Katie Dickie, and Mike Wozniak.
The visuals are great. At the height of her mania, Ruth’s vision dominates the screen. This is done with a combination of dramatic montage and fast paced editing techniques. There are cuts of the 1934 film ‘Crime Without Passion‘ interspersed with close-ups of Ruth; her hysterical facial expressions, the precise actions of her attacks, her victims left for dead. The first scenes are of reptiles in a pet store. The frames of snakes, spiders, and lizards crop up again in this use of rapid montage, alongside another scene intrinsic to the narrative. There are also several genius touches of costume and make-up to complete each episode.
This film was reportedly shot in only eleven days, though you wouldn’t tell from watching it. Of the external scenes shot on location, the idea of place is used as an advantage to the narrative. There are comments on the idea of the individual lost in an urban landscape, separate from the passing revellers on a night out, or the every day commuter. For a film with such an extreme viciousness key to it’s appeal, the locations are very mundane. It’s like the film and characters are projected on to the landscape. At one brief moment, there’s even a shot of an Asda car park.
The DIY spirit of ‘Prevenge‘ is one which should be applauded. The quick shoot at the same time as Alice Lowe‘s real life pregnancy and the work on location, are initially in the tone of realism. It is then impressive that the intense feel of the film and it’s themes are all present in the visuals and montage. The use of audio is standard horror fare – the eerie score and voiceover are outweighed by the images presenting the psychosis. A deft piece of film-making.
[rating=4] | Zach Roddis
Comedy, fantasy | UK, 2016 | 15 | Kaleidoscope Entertaintment | 10th February 2017 (UK) | Dir.Alice Lowe | Alice Lowe, Jo Hartley, Kayvan Novak, Tom Davis, Dan Renton Skinner