Prevenge review: Very nasty, very funny, very pregnant

Sightseers co-creator Alice Lowe delivers a dark and messy essay on gestation - and it's an unsettling, satirical gem

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Director: Alice Lowe
Cert: 16
Genre: Horror
Starring: Alice Lowe, Jo Hartley, Kayvan Novak, Tom Davis, Dan Renton Skinner, Kate Dickie, Leila Hoffman, Tom Meeten
Running Time: 1 hr 28 mins

Here is a film that could only have been made by a woman. It’s not just that a chap wouldn’t (or perhaps shouldn’t) dare to direct a film about a pregnant woman driven to murder by voices from within the womb.

The fact that the invaluable Alice Lowe – co-creator of Sightseers – was actually pregnant during the shoot is part of Prevenge's singular appeal. Keep your whinges to yourself. This is, among other things, a messy essay on gestation by somebody who knows what she's talking about.

As the film progresses, we learn that Ruth (Lowe in trademark deadpan mode) is being urged not just towards attacks on general patriarchal intolerance, but also towards a more targeted campaign against those she feels responsible for her widowhood.

Early on, a lascivious DJ, whose chat-up techniques are as unreformed as his taste for 1970s disco, is inconvenienced in the most deliciously savage fashion. Later on, Ruth circles associates of her late husband.


Those two strands don’t quite knit together. A more honed script would surely have stressed one over the other. The film is also a little short on tonal accumulation: we begin in an awful place and end up somewhere equally dreadful.

However, Lowe's focused performance and her grasp of comic macabre elevate Prevenge to the status of rough-hewn gem. She is equally at home with kitchen-sink satire and – as the images turn red and Toydrum's synth score throbs – nightmarish nods to Dario Argento.

Very nasty. Very funny. Very English.

Donald Clarke

Donald Clarke

Donald Clarke, a contributor to The Irish Times, is Chief Film Correspondent and a regular columnist