DIRECTOR: Alice Lowe
WRITER: Alice Lowe
Ruth who is recently widowed when her boyfriend is killed in a rock climbing accident is also seven months pregnant. Ruth is still trying to come to terms with the death of her partner while also trying to get ready for the birth of her child. Ruth believes that the unborn baby inside her womb is instructing her to go on a homicidal rampage and seek revenge on all of those who are responsible for her partner's accident. Both Ruth and her unborn baby will dispatch of anyone who stands in their way.
Back in 2012, I got a chance to watch Ben Wheatley's Sightseers. The movie was a jet black horror comedy about a couple that goes on a road trip, which quickly turns very dark. The movie mixed both horror and comedy elements very well. This is the first time that I got to see Alice Lowe in action. With Prevenge, she now takes on the director, writer and leading actress duties and delivers a movie that feels very similar in tone to her role in Sightseers. I believe she is still enjoying the experience of that film and tried her own take on this sort of story.
When Prevenge opens, we see this gorgeous shot of the Wales coastline, and we are suddenly subjected to a shot of blood and brain matter splattered on the rocks. The opening shot sets the tone immediately, and Prevenge takes no time in getting to its revenge and gruesome violence. Alice Lowe wastes no time in giving us her homicidal Ruth. Ruth is cutthroat and doesn't waste any time in murdering her first victim. She is very swift and commits a brutal crime only minutes into the movie. I was actually taken back and at a loss as to whether I should root for her or despise her.
The movie over the course of it's running time shows Ruth and her unborn baby who is speaking to her from the womb. If you went into this expecting a straight-forward horror movie about a pregnant woman who gets a little knife happy, think again. It's a bizarre and oddball horror comedy about a woman who believes that her unborn baby is instructing her to maim and butcher people on a quest for bloody revenge. Whenever she hears the voice of her baby, this is where the movie gets a lot of it's most bizarre and comedic moments.
The flip side to Prevenge is the rather huge tonal shifts between comedy and horror and they don't always work for me. I think the horror elements of the film are much more apparent and they outweigh the comedic stuff. I enjoyed the horror elements here as they are pretty gory and brutal. At times, I think this is a rather unpleasant experience. You follow Ruth as she goes on this killing spree and you start to get to know why as the plot progresses. So for a majority of the running time, characters appear to be murdered just for remarks they've made, and it seems mean-spirited. Even when the twist is revealed, it still felt morally wrong. In the end, Ruth is just a monster and them trying to make excuses feels confusing and muddled.
I think where this story also misses the mark is the ending and overall twist. While it gets slowly revealed as to why Ruth is seeking revenge, we are given a heartbreaking reason why and while I felt horrible for this character, it sort of happens and is simply passed over. This whole movie is based on this one incident, and when it's revealed, it is shown and we never really get much time to take it all in as the movie sort of just wraps everything up. The ending also hints at something but again, it just ends, and it's left up in the air. I felt like I was actually cheated a bit with this film.
There are several moments that were pretty stomach churning and grotesque. I'm not easily grossed out, but Prevenge has one moment that made me almost bring up my dinner. Shockingly, being a male, I had no issue with that testicle being slashed open and falling on the floor. There is a scene where this misogynistic DJ pukes into his afro wig and with vomit all over his face, french kisses Ruth. This scene would've played well and fit right in there with a Farrelly Brothers comedy. It was disgusting and would love to see the outtakes of this scene.
The acting in Prevenge is rather solid. Do I enjoy the character of Ruth? No, not at all. But is Alice Lowe's performance good? Yes. I thought she played this tortured woman well. I think that she plays a character who is reprehensible and repugnant very well. Kate Dickie who I've seen in movies like Prometheus and The Witch is great in a small almost cameo like performance as a female interviewer who meets a rather gruesome demise. The rest of the cast who play the victims also give it their best shot with what they are given.
Lastly, is Prevenge scary? No, the movie goes for a more comedic approach. There is no major jump scares or moments that will scare the viewer. What I believe this film will do for some sensitive viewers is deliver a few substantial shocks as the gore and death scenes are quite nasty and realistic. The movie doesn't really shy away from a lot of the kills, and even when it does, it still has some bloody aftermaths. The film on a bloody level should keep most gore hounds pretty happy. I think it may even make some viewers wince in disgust.
DEATH TOLL: 7
BLOOD AND GORE:
- Someone falls onto rocks while rock climbing.
- A man shown with his skull cracked open (blood and brain matter).
- A man has his throat slit.
- A woman has her throat slashed.
- A baby is seen being removed from a woman's stomach.
- A woman is stabbed in the stomach with a knife.
- A man is slashed across the testicles and one falls on the floor.
- A man vomits into an afro wig and kisses a girl.
- A woman stabs a man in the eye with a sharp Buddha statue.
Prevenge is an odd one. On a horror level, the movie plays nasty and bloody. The death scenes are also gruesome and realistic. The movie even has a few gross-out moments and a couple of laughs. Prevenge also contains a cast in fine form. Where the movie loses points for me is that not one of them is likeable. The mystery at the heart of the film is also a miss. The film sort of builds to nothing and when it ends, I felt cheated. This is tonally uneven, but I still feel the movie had moments. Possibly don't watch with your pregnant wife, it may give her ideas.