Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Prevenge (2016)

is a beautifully British, blackly comic entry into the pregnancy horror subgenre (of which I am a fan, if you hadn't already guessed).

Written, directed and starring Alice Lowe, shot in just 11 days and all while 8 months pregnant. Can we all just take a moment to say "badass"? 

This title has been on my radar for a little while, but upon learning the above I had to promote it to top of my watchlist. However much I did or didn't end up liking the film, its own conception and birth story was phenomenally impressive!

Lowe stars as Ruth, a recently widowed and heavily pregnant woman who, when we meet her is making her way through a list of people to murder. 

The reason for their deaths is made clearer as the story unfolds, but the main drive behind Ruth's homicidal behaviour is the fact she can hear her unborn baby commanding her to do it.

And I loved that the drama wasn't really in Ruth's grappling with this task - in fact, she doesn't really seem to mind this wet work. This woman is lost in the world after losing her husband; the only thing she has is the baby. So she does as she's told.

Baby knows what to do. Baby will tell you what to do.
− Ruth's midwife, unknowingly endorsing the deaths of others.

When see Ruth briefly fail to execute these internal instructions, she experiences a violent physical reaction (taking place in an empty subway/underpass, this may well be an homage to Andrzej Żuławski’s Possession, a film I'm desperate to see but haven't yet managed to, although I've read a lot about it!). In another scene, she carries on a deadpan, darkly funny conversation with "Baby", bemoaning the demands children place on parents.

How Ruth is able to continue these murders without being caught is never really discussed, but ultimately she's forced to question the true origins of the voice she's been hearing, with a climax that makes you wonder if she indeed actually cares.

There's a quote that's stayed with me that I think speaks volumes for the character of Ruth. Widowed, adrift and alone in a world full of creeps, arseholes and overly chirpy midwives, she has no connection to anyone now, apart from the baby inside her. 

I'm not grieving, I'm gestating... Fucking rage.

In a break from her normally dry, disdainful demeanor, she spits these words at a softly-spoken potential victim as he tries to calm her down, in a moment of pure emotion and vulnerability. A "force of nature", like the midwife claimed in one of several scenes with her that are loaded with double meaning.

The fact that most other characters are painted so broadly (pervert, idiot, bitch, etc) was not a problem for me, as I associated with Ruth more than I probably should have. I, too, am eternally annoyed and irritated by the decisions other people make. I really understood her scorn and the way she moved through the world carrying it along with her child.

Prevenge is streaming on Shudder right now, and well worth checking out. Watch that title screen and tell me it didn't make you excited, at least!

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