The concept of pregnancy is inherently horrifying- sharing your body with another rapidly growing lifeform who leeches off your nutrients. This has been explored in countless horror films, through the invasive gestation of the iconic Xenomorph from Ridley Scott’s groundbreaking science-fiction/horror fusion Alien (1979) to the toe-curlingly uncomfortable Grace (2009). However, writer/director Alice Lowe’s horror-comedy Prevenge (2016) stands out amidst other pregnancy-themed horror films and not just the fact that it was written in three days.
Ruth’s (played by Alice Lowe herself) pregnancy is more stressful than most. Not only is she grieving over the tragic death of her husband in a climbing accident, but her unborn baby is telepathically goading her into murdering those responsible for his demise. As ridiculous as it sounds on paper, Alice Lowe manages to make the concept into something that is both blackly comic and creepy. Ruth utilizes seemingly vulnerable and wholesome image associated with the pregnant woman to lull her victims into a sense of false security. This is helped by the fact that Lowe was genuinely pregnant during the making of the film, delivering a baby daughter named Della before the film’s release. The creepiness is heightened by the sociopathic unborn child psychically communicating to her beleaguered mother like a fetal Venom. As Ruth grumbles; “Kids these days are really spoilt. It’s like, ‘Mummy, I want a Playstation! Mummy, I want you to kill that man!'”
As original as the execution is, it may be too out there for some, with scenes of Ruth’s dwindling sanity juxtaposed to clips of Lee Garmes’ Crimes without Passion (1934) of the monochrome Furies, cementing Ruth as an avenging angel, an archetype she takes to a literal extreme in the climax of the film at a Halloween party, where she wears a reaper-like costume. But to others, the occasional surreal adds to the film’s offbeat charm and subtle, lingering eeriness. The film itself realizes the ridiculousness of it’s own premise and carries a tongue-in-cheek tone.
If you’re tired of the typical co-ed slaughter fodder, Prevenge is a truly unique slasher film that delivers on both laughs and scares.