UK | 2016 | Directed by Alice Lowe
Logline: A heavily pregnant woman, recovering from the death of the father-to-be, is convinced her unborn daughter is communicating with her and making her do terrible things.
Ruth (Alice Lowe) is not having a good time. She’s seven months pregnant and her expectant child is talking to her telepathically, guiding her to kill anyone who is untoward or simply in the way of her pursuit of the truth behind the death of her partner who died tragically in a rock-climbing incident. It doesn’t help that most of the men and women she encounters are pigs and idiots.
Ruth becomes increasingly desperate for clarity over the death of her partner. She meets Tom (Kayvan Novak) who was one of the other rock-climbers, and she is determined to squeeze the beans from him. But there will be collateral damage along this messy route. Ruth arms herself with a serrated kitchen knife and dispatches the obstacles as she sees fit, seeing herself as a kind of dark avenging angel, like the wide-eyed banshee in the old black and white movie she watched in a daze on tele.
Made on the smell of a monthly rag, written in a three-and-a-half day sulk, shot with intent in just eleven days, mostly in Cardiff, Wales, Revenge is the kind of perverse vanity project that completely blows that hairy pretence to pieces. Alice Lowe has been acting since the mid-noughties, but she came to attention to genre fans with Ben Wheatley’s brilliant Sightseers, a comedy as black as the inside of a sack in a dark room. Lowe co-wrote Sightseers with her co-star Steve Oram (who went on to make his own hilarious and very taste-acquired comedy of manners Aaaaaaaah!), and she wrote and directed Prevenge as a direct result of finding it incredibly difficult to get work as a pregnant actor, and as a sly slice of irony, she actually was heavily pregnant during the shoot.
Prevenge is as much an adult fantasy as it is a comedy-horror, as dark, hilarious, and original as Sightseers. Lowe’s Ruth is a superbly realised character, as frustrated and driven as you can imagine, especially when she’s up against some disgusting male specimen, like the sleazy pet shop owner, or, better (read: worse) still, DJ Dan, played by Tom “Cracking Chang” Davis, who chews the scenery so beautifully and with side-splitting results. Also of note is Jo Hartley as Ruth’s midwife and Kate Dickie as an arrogant potential job employer.
Featuring a great score from Pablo Clements and James Griffith, under the moniker Toydrum, and with Alice Lowe delivering one of the most entertaining, perfectly pitched performances I’ve seen in a while, Prevenge crackles with savage wit and warbles with absurd clarity; one woman’s descent into pre-natal and post-natal madness, and when I say “madness” I mean both fury and delusion, because who’s to know just what is really taking place in the real world, and what is occurring as a vision of Ruth’s twisted mind. The ending caps it all off beautifully.
One of my favourite movies of the year.