There is the old adage that states women create life and men destroy it. While this can be said to be true, there is another strange assumption that argues childbirth is a beautiful thing. This latter maxim seems especially weird as labour is a painful, potentially dangerous experience that resembles an attack from an alien chest burster than bringing forth new life (only a man could think Alien is close to labour, Ed) . Alice Lowe's Prevenge, coming to Blu-Ray June 5th. An potential cult slasher film, Alice Lowe's Prevenge seeks to flip and reaffirm both of these statements, and arrives on Blu-ray June 5th.
Ruth's partner is dead. He died in a climbing accident. She is also pregnant, and the foetus is telling her to do some strange things, like kill everyone who was involved in the climbing trip that killed her partner.
Shot over the course of two weeks while Alice Lowe, the writer/director/star was also heavily pregnant, this film is a unique beast. People probably know Alice Lowe best from her star turn as Tina in Ben Wheatley's darkly funny Sightseers (which Lowe also co-wrote) and, if you are a fan of that slightly bizarre gallows humour, then you are going to love Prevenge. The mix of subtle comedy, grotesque murder and poignant character moments mix together to create something that is unlike anything else.
The cinematography, shot by Ryan Eddleston, helps create a demented realism with echoes of documentary style shakey camera work. This, mixed with virtuosic editing by Lowe and Matteo Bini means there are times where you find yourself face-to-face with the grim and grimy realities of a manic murder spree where at other times the film descends into a melancholic surreal examination of loss, mourning and motherhood. What helps this is an impeccable understanding of colour and a score by electronic musical duo TOYDRUM that echoes early slasher films. However, like everything else in Prevenge it does more than satiate a need for old time horror movies, it also seeks to shed light on the state of mind of our tragic heroine/antihero. There are the Carpenter-esque synth beats for the more intense parts of the film and quieter, more sedate tracks for introspection. All of which transition perfectly between one another.
However, none of this would have meant squat without a terrific central performance from Alice Lowe, who adds depth to a character that could have been a one-dimensional psychopath. Instead, Lowe plays Ruth as tragically funny, with ineptitudes in her plan and a subtle pleasure that she takes in each kill, that slowly overcome her. Lowe is backed up by some absolutely wonderful performances from a group of comic actors. Tom Davis and Dan Renton Skinner are both incredibly gross and creepy as Ruth's first victims, While Mike Wozniak, Gemma Whelan, and Katie Dickie provide some of the lighter (killer) moments, and sudden shocks. Finally Jo Hartley as Ruth's midwife is both down-to-earth and incredibly mystical at the same time, the soothing side to Ruth's pregnancy and main external force caring for her murderous baby daughter (who Lowe also voices).
I was hoping to see this in cinemas, but due to Prevenge's limited release I never got the opportunity. I am so glad that I picked this up. It is unlike anything I have ever seen before; a film that will take its place as a modern horror classic, though claiming it solely a horror is somehow doing this film a disservice: it is a horror-thriller, a tragicomedy. All these rolled into one with great, simple cinematography, a chilling score and spectacular performances. You owe it to yourself to see Ruth’s spiral into grief-fuelled madness in a nuanced and sympathetic performance by Lowe.
For the most part, the disc, produced and distributed by Kaleidoscope, is well made. The main feature has no visual or audio errors. The subtitles are easy to read, and the menus are simple. What I did have a problem with is that during one of the extras, the featurette, there was a strange and distracting visual glitch. Apart from that, it is a solid release mechanically.
The disc itself comes packaged with three bonus features, which include the trailer, a making-of featurette, and a commentary track provided by Alice Lowe, Ryan Eddleston, and Matteo Bini. A trailer being included on the disc is so commonplace nowadays that it isn't worth mentioning, however, the making-of documentary has some really great crew interviews which gives an interesting glimpse into how this film was made. This, paired with an excellent commentary track that talks about not only production but the themes of the movie, should be the perfect inspiration for other filmmakers working with micro-budgets and short production schedules. I personally found Alice Lowe on the commentary track to be highly entertaining and informative without any form of pretension that helped me to appreciate what was probably an incredibly stressful time in her life.
Prevenge is a marvel in and of itself. Not only is it a wonderfully dark tragicomedy but it is also a great example of how good a low budget film can be. Though what makes it truly remarkable is that it was entirely led by a pregnant woman, and I am sure that when this film gets a higher circulation it will be included in many, many think pieces written about feminism and gender in the film industry. With all of that on its shoulders the disc package comes with enough extra content and analysis to make it well worth adding to your Blu-ray collection, especially if you are a fan of horror, a fan of film or you are looking for something entirely different.