tue 09/08/2022

DVD/Blu-ray: Prevenge | reviews, news & interviews

DVD/Blu-ray: Prevenge

DVD/Blu-ray: Prevenge

Tremendous: Alice Lowe's directing debut is a (bloody) good film

Heavy: Alice Lowe as Ruth

“People think babies are sweet. But this one’s bitter.” So squeaks Alice Lowe’s malevolent unborn daughter in the horror comedy Prevenge, prompting her heavily pregnant host Ruth to embark on a killing spree.

Think of it as an unholy blend of Rosemary’s Baby, Sweeney Todd and Kind Hearts and Coronets, as Ruth seeks to murder those who she blames for the death of her lover in a climbing accident.

Childbirth should be a celebration of love; here, it’s a very grim business indeed, Ruth’s body being subject to what she describes as a hostile takeover. Prevenge makes a virtue of its limited budget. It was economically shot in just 11 days while writer-director Lowe was herself pregnant. The filming had to be quick, as “you don’t have much continuity control…”, and an actual birth would have sabotaged the production. Ruth’s partner’s death is implied with a few glimpses of a frayed climbing rope, and nocturnal Cardiff locations evoke an anonymous urban landscape, the city’s flickering lights suggesting a low-rent Blade Runner.

PrevengeMuch of the shock value comes in the contrasts between the everyday realities of pregnancy, typified by Ruth’s dealings with Jo Hartley’s well-intentioned midwife, and the nastiness of the various deaths and dismemberments which she leaves in her wake. A slimy pet-dealer meets a bloody end on his shop floor. Heads are bashed, and throats are slit. Most satisfying is the dispatch of Tom Davis’s loathsome DJ Dan, a selfish, sexist oaf whose grisly fate is wholly deserved. Afterwards Ruth rather sweetly ushers Dan’s elderly mother back into bed before making her exit. Ruth always retains a spark of humanity. We’re desperate for her to succeed, and it’s telling that the fight between her and Gemma Whelan’s uptight Len is chilling, the scene dissolving into farce when Ruth evades capture by slithering through a dog flap.

The final Halloween sequence is tremendous: Ruth’s nocturnal procession through Cardiff’s streets is brilliantly filmed on the hoof, the underpass footage implying that she’s reached the very bottom. Toydrum’s spare, synth-heavy soundtrack works a treat, and cinematographer Ryan Eddleston’s use of light and colour is bewitching. As directorial debuts go, it’s fantastic, and you admire Lowe even more when listening to her warmly self-deprecating director’s commentary. Extras also include an entertaining “Making of” featurette and the trailer.

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