Alice Lowe writes, directs and stars in her new project, Prevenge, a deliciously dark and gore-filled comedy-horror.
The film follows soon-to-be Mother, Ruth, who during her pregnancy, is plagued by violent thoughts which seem to spawn from her unborn daughter, and which lead her to commit a series of violent acts on mostly random people.
This violence is both shocking, in its timing, and comic in the circumstances in which each act occurs. The first in particular is a jarring pull straight into the story, where we first meet the character of Ruth and is set up by a hilariously awkward interaction in a reptile shop between Ruth and her first victim.
During the Q&A, Lowe brought up this unconventional introduction of a female protagonist, comparing it to typical openings which are often supposed to make the woman relatable and likeable. This tendency to appease mass audiences by portraying pleasant and empathetic women who are easy to identify with often backfires instead creating charming, but dull and lifeless characters. With her murderous mission, Ruth is anything but dull.
As well as being a comedy-horror, the film is also very deep, dark (something Lowe pre-warned the audience for) and emotional, exploring themes surrounding death, grief and motherhood. The few poignant scenes allow for Lowe to bring a more sympathetic element to Ruth, an understanding of her situation and uncertainty about bringing a child into the world. Showing this side also allows for extra appreciation of Lowe’s dramatic acting, which she isn’t given nearly enough credit for.
Shot predominantly in Cardiff, Prevenge really makes use of the city and the time of year (with thanks to cinematographer Ryan Eddleston). Being from, and living in Cardiff myself, I knew many of the locations used, which gave me a more intimate view of the film.
One particularly memorable scene towards the end of the film, with Ruth making her way through the city on her way to a Halloween party, where she goes to find her final victim is a great example of this. It was actually filmed on a busy Haloween in Cardiff city centre in 2015, and if you know Cardiff on a Saturday night, you can probably imagine what this was like to film. This just enhances the intimacy between Ruth and her surroundings which really shows through in the realism conveyed, as well as the almost-art film style of the sequence.
Talking about shooting on location, Lowe also discussed some of her rules and preferences for working on set and in particular, brought up her aim of “working as equals” and having no hierarchy within the crew. Being a young, aspiring filmmaker myself, this is how I approach my own projects and how I’d like to think all professional teams work. I’m comforted by this idea and way of working, and hopeful that this will continue to spread among the majority of productions.
The music in the film is also worth talking about, with a soundtrack created by Toydrum, made up of former members of the band UNKLE. Reminiscent of 80’s film soundtracks, or the more modern versions like those used for Drive and Stranger Things, it’s full of heavy synth sounds and deep and resonant bass. The track Biological Clockwork (The Train) acts as the theme of the movie and projects the haunting and chilling moments it plays over.
As well as an exceptional performance from Lowe, Prevenge also features a fantastic and rich supporting cast including Kayvan Novak (Fonejacker), Dan Renton Skinner (Angelou Epithemos), Gemma Whelan (Game of Thrones) and Jo Hartley (This is England), who convincingly portray the mix of intriguing and creepy array of characters.
All-in-all, Lowe has managed to successfully make a unique and poignant film about motherhood and loss, with an independent female character, while still keeping within the bounds of the comedy and horror she is so well known for.
To write, direct and star in a film, as Lowe has done, is a huge achievement in itself, but to do all of that while also being seven months pregnant (!!!) is baffling to some and astonishing to others. To me, it is a source of inspiration.
Support independent British filmmakers! Prevenge is released in the UK February 10th.