It’s always a pleasure to see an actor you like make their first move into directing, and that was what drew me to Alice Lowe’s directorial debut Prevenge. If you don’t know her she is likely best known for writing and starring in Sightseers, though I know her most from Hot Fuzz and she has been close with Edgar Wright since then. With two wonderfully macabre comedies being what I know her for, this one sounded right up my alley. So without further putzing about let me tell you about it.
Prevenge stars Lowe as Ruth, a pregnant woman who is out for blood at the behest of her unborn daughter. We find this murder spree isn’t without cause but rather in revenge for the death of the baby’s father who was killed in a climbing accident, and as such Ruth is commanded to kill those that were there. Ruth deals with her sorrow at the loss, her questioning of the justification for these murders and also does all she can to ensure her baby is healthy and hers. Throughout it’s a question of how far she will go, is this baby evil, and what really happened to her lost love.
First off I just want to say that the performances are some of the strongest parts here, with the humor and the horror both showing well. Lowe is the main focus of our story and also performed legitimately several months pregnant. She does a good job balancing the sides of cold blooded killer and concerned future mother while also not missing a beat on her jokes. Equally skilled was Jo Hartley as the midwife that Ruth visits throughout the film. The midwife has a sort of odd sense of herself and comfort and almost feels like she thinks and speaks in non-sequiturs at times, but that just plays into the humor and oddity felt throughout. Those Ruth kills also do well, but there are too many to discuss in depth, but I will say Tom Davis’ character DJ Dan and Kate Dickie’s Ella were the standouts for me. They got some of the most time and had really great and funny scenes that stand out in my mind.
It’s important to reiterate that Prevenge is Lowe’s first time directing, and while overall it is a solid outing, this is also where the film gets a bit dicey. There are some cases of the shots and pacing feeling a little bit off here and there that do lead to the film taking a slight hit for me. It doesn’t decimate it, but when we have a very interesting narrative and good characters and comedy happening it does hurt it. The film overall though tells it’s story well and does keep you engaged to wanting to learn more about the death of her lover and whether or not the baby is evil which is crucial to it all. I will also say that while the ending was a little odd, I felt like it fit in line with the film and allowed it to be a little open-ended but not so much that the audience feels cheated out of a resolution.
A strong first directorial outing for Alice Lowe and a wonderfully dark comedy that hits more high notes than it loses. I don’t know if I’d recommend going to see it opening night in a theater but it certainly is one worth looking up on streaming of this kind of weird dark humor is up your alley.