Director Alice Lowe
Writer Alice Lowe
Lead Alice Lowe
Box Office $94,000
Low budget British horror cinema, where have you been all these years? Or should I rephrase that to where has the good low budget British horror cinema been all these years?
Alice Lowe directs, writes and stars in Prevenge, a British horror comedy shot inside two weeks in and around Cardiff in 2016. Thankfully, it isn’t akin to Tommy Wiseau’s effort at directing, writing and starring all in the same film ala The Room, which is on the ‘so shit it’s good’ scale.
A pregnant Ruth (Alice Lowe) is mourning over the death of her boyfriend after he was cut from a safety rope out rock climbing to save the other members of the group. Ruth’s unborn baby then encourages her to slaughter the members of the climbing group in an avenging mission.
I was vary wary of the Good Dr. Kermode’s six-laugh test in the opening moments of the film as I was reminded it was a horror comedy. It passed with flying colours. Ruth is not only funny, she has these slight kinks to her character: kissing them before or after killing them, for example. Following one particular death scene, she puts a dementia ridden mother of the victim to bed and does her washing for her.
A quintessentially British way of going about your murders.
I’ve seen certain online reviews document ‘pathetic’ and ‘underwhelming’ murders. This is not a SAW or a Hostel, there isn’t a need here to chop limbs off and feed them to her competitors. The story lies in how Ruth speaks to her baby and how her efficiency goes through peaks and troughs.
A testicle gets cut out of a man, for fucks sake, what more do you want? Wincing for me, as a male, but also hilarious at the same time. For a gender who find it difficult to find humour in such close to the knuckle violence, this particular death scene is one of the best in the film.
Besides the obvious avenging your dead boyfriend reason for the murders, Ruth is given more reasons to kill in the earlier murders: the men are seen as predatory whilst the interviewer rejects her application on account of her being pregnant.
There’s a sort of Kill Bill element to it, as Ruth flicks through her scrapbook, documenting the murders she is going to commit. Through the first act, I was worried it would be a simple list of kills and certain methods of doing so. However, intertwined we have the fantastic skits between actually pregnant Ruth and the midwife as well as a couple of confrontations with Kayvan Novak’s character, Tom, who is revealed to be the leader of the climbing group and will probably be the film’s final boss battle.
A factor I like about the climbing group is that they aren’t identified early on, it isn’t spelled out who they are so there’s some mystery as to who Ruth will murder next. For example, we are thrust right into job interview and flat sharing scenes with no pretence or preparation.
It is in the latter of these scenes that we can see a semblance of Ruth’s remorse, as she has to kill Josh, an unintended target as he witnesses the murder of Zach. Zach’s murder, I thought, was fairly reminiscent of Pete’s death in Shaun of the Dead.
This leads into the middle scene where Ruth’s unborn baby hurts her from the womb in order for her to comply. In a precursor to the Halloween scene between Ruth and Tom, the baby even breaks her waters and threatens to kill her if she doesn’t carry out Tom’s murder. Ruth’s remorse and shambolic style is seen more in the second act, with Len’s murder and seeing that Tom is going to become a father.
Overall, one of the funnier comedy horrors I have seen and considering Shaun of the Dead is my all-time favourite film, I hold this film in a similar esteem. It is low budget but it is never distracting and, being shot in two weeks, allows Alice Lowe to keep the same size throughout her pregnancy. For completing a distressing feat such as writing, directing and starring in your own film whilst being heavily pregnant is a superb achievement itself.