Prevenge film review: baby’s got a temper

Alice Lowe directs, writes and stars in the brilliant Prevenge

Sightseers co-writer/star Alice Lowe makes her directorial debut with a superb jolt of horror, dark humour and energy that confirms her as one of our most exciting talents and gives us an unforgettable lead character.

She’s Ruth; eight months pregnant and out to kill everyone on her list, driven by the voice of her unborn child.

The fact that Lowe shot this film while actually eight months pregnant is obviously hugely impressive, but the physical feat of this shouldn’t distract from just how good Prevenge is. Lowe deftly juggles tones to create something that defies easy categorisation. Ruth is a remorseless killer, but the film refuses to treat her as some kind of two-dimensional monster. There are times when we really feel for Ruth, a lost woman whose body and mind have been hijacked, and others when we really don’t, which makes her a lot of fun to watch.

With shifting sympathies, complex characterisation and bold stylistic choices, the atmosphere shifts suddenly, and to great effect. The brutal violence comes with moments of pathos followed by savagely funny humour, whether it’s Kate Dickie’s workaholic realising how empty her life is while trying to tell Ruth what she does in her spare time, or our protagonist and her unborn baby debating whether the hipster choices of an innocent bystander meant he would have gone to the police.

The supporting actors are perfect, with Dan Skinner as an exotic pet shop owner, Tom Davis as a slovenly DJ, Gemma Whelan as a punchy athlete and Kayvan Novak as the climbing instructor at the end of Ruth’s list, while Jo Hartley is brilliant as Ruth’s midwife, who is increasingly concerned by her patient’s comments about how the baby is in control.

This is Lowe’s showcase. She gives a predictably excellent central performance, and it’s exciting to see a film that’s this confident, bold and entertaining.