Tuesday, 18 October 2016

LFF 2016: Prevenge

Shift over Marge Gunderson, budge up Juno MacGuff: the small world of films with lead characters whose ovens are home to a sizeable bun just got even less roomy. In fact Prevenge straddles two subgenres like a mighty, tender-breasted colossus, and both the pregnancy comedy and the vengeance thriller are about to get a new champion in Alice Lowe's homicidal, hormonally imbalanced heroine Ruth.

Grieving and growing at an exponential rate, seven-months-pregnant Ruth is a bereaved mum-to-be on a mission. The catalyst for her waddling rampage of revenge and the connection between her victims are only gradually revealed throughout Lowe's self-directed script, lending the early sequences a shocking, jet-black streak of darkness matched only by the equally grim humour. Comparisons with Lowe's work on Sightseers are unavoidable (emotionally vulnerable woman is coerced into an incongruously funny killing spree by a malevolent accomplice), but Prevenge is a leaner, meaner experience, rougher around the edges but with added layers of insight from a fairly unique point of view in cinema: that of a woman undergoing the turbulent, life-changing effects of pregnancy.

Conceived, written and shot while Lowe was herself in the process of baby-bearing (that's her actual bump on display throughout the film), Prevenge is a remarkable achievement considering its brief gestation period, and a breath of fresh air from a specifically female perspective that still shouldn't freak out the #NotAllMen brigade. There's a touching motif about life, death and the umbilical connection between the two which marks the film out as a more thoughtful slasher movie than it initially appears, and the lasting impression is a fond hope that its mother starts work on a little brother or sister sooner rather than later.

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