Prevenge (2016) [REVIEW] [SXSW ’17]

First and foremost, filmmaker Ben Wheatley neither wrote nor directed this movie, so don’t get confused when I mention him as a point of reference. What excites me most about him is his refusal to be pigeonholed in one genre, which is why I had no idea what to think when he went from Kill List to Sightseers. I was expecting (hoping for?) one type of film, and got something completely different. One of that film’s strengths was its jet black humor, thanks to the script, penned by star Alice Lowe. Having seen Lowe’s directorial debut Prevenge, I have a newfound respect for the filmmaker, having seen the similarities in humor and tone between it and Sightseers, and wish I could hang out with her. Why? Because Prevenge is as sick and twisted as it is funny, while also being full of heart, showing the lengths a parent will go to make their child happy.

This outfit looks like Urban Legend meets, I don’t know, a pregnant lady?

We don’t know much about Ruth (Lowe), but we know she’s pregnant and, other than her unborn baby, completely alone. Her partner and father of her child apparently died in some sort of rock climbing accident, with the circumstances surrounding the incident being relatively vague. Ruth often talks to her baby, with the audience even hearing the unborn baby’s responses, signaling some sort of mental psychosis. Oh, and she also kills people under direction from the fetus. At first, we aren’t entirely sure why the victims are chosen, but as the story progresses and Ruth gets closer and closer to giving birth, things become much more clear, and even if that clarity still sounds like a mess for the audience, it all makes sense in Ruth’s mind, culminating in a life-changing revelation.

To be fair, I look just as creepy in this outfit as she did, so let’s not give her TOO much credit.

Finding the balance between humor and horror is a near-impossible task, but Lowe deftly manipulates the tone of each scene for the right balance of both. Any time the audience felt like the film was about to zig, Lowe would make it zag. Her writing and direction constantly surprised audiences, pulling our emotions to each end of the spectrum from scene to scene, making us feel as conflicted as Ruth herself. I can’t say I’ve ever been pregnant, which might shock you, but I know many women who have. For one, my mom! She was pregnant once. I might never understand the primal pull of doing the unthinkable to ensure the happiness of your own progeny, but I assume Prevenge is about as close as a movie can get to putting those emotions on screen. Between this film and Sightseers, Lowe has quickly become one of the genre filmmakers I’m most excited for, not only in hopes of seeing the brilliant blend of laughs and gore, but also for stories that exaggerate the human condition to heights that can be put on display for all to see, conveying some of the most complex emotions anyone might encounter.

Wolfman Moon Scale

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