By Casey Campbell
On a blisteringly frigid evening in late March, a collection of horror lovers and cinephiles lined up at the Brattle Theatre in Cambridge, Massachusetts to ring in the first night of the Boston Underground Film Festival, or, BUFF. On tap was Prevenge, a slasher comedy which showcased the clear talents of writer, director, and lead actress Alice Lowe, in her first directorial feature. Prevenge was a hilariously dry, gory blast, with moments of heart sprinkled throughout. There are worse ways to kick off a film festival.
You’d think that a writer/director would have enough on their plate. Now, imagine a writer/director who is seven months pregnant that also stars in their own film. Despite the factors pulling her in several different directions, Alice Lowe put together a great film, told in a refreshingly interesting way.
The story here is weird, perfect for audiences of BUFF, where weird films go to flourish. Ruth (Lowe), a pregnant widow, goes on a killing spree per the request of her unborn fetus. The baby delivers disembodied lines of high-pitched dialogue with results ranging from unnerving to hilarious, and it works. The story unfolds in a way that propels this film higher than others in the genre. Lowe feeds the audience bit by bit until the drive behind the killing is made clear. This is mostly through unforced dialogue and flashback imagery.
In a similar social-conscious vein like Jordan Peele’s Get Out from earlier this year, Prevenge sets its sights on feminism. Both advertise as horror but deliver much more substance in their delineation of social taboos through clever writing and humor. The protagonist Ruth deals with men who objectify her, and women who look down on her lack of a man.
Ruth’s killing spree is done with humor and great character. Each murder is preceded by a humorous build-up of tension that often resulted in the audience loudly exclaiming bouts of laughter or humored disgust.
As the first feature under director Alice Lowe’s belt, Prevenge flows easily and flashbacks are used fleetingly. While not a prerequisite for a good rating, it must be said that the film was shot during an impressively short 11-day schedule. The length of the shoot is important here because it shows how deft Lowe is in her direction. To create this professional and tight finished product in such a short time on its small budget is incredible.
If you’re tired of being beaten to death with exposition and want a humorously inventive experience, Prevenge is for you. It’s fun, gross, and strange. If it opens into a wider release, seeing it with an active audience of horror fiends enhances the experience.
Overall Grade: A-
Originally published at Emertainment Monthly:
Buy here: Prevenge [Blu-ray]