Pregnancy, Cravings And Carvings
We are all beset with idyllic imagery of the apparent infinite joy of bringing a child into the world. Whether it becomes part of your calling (or a drunken one night stand) in life or not, you’ll definitely have friends who have instantly aged 15 years over night and seem solely focused on hunting for a mythical prized and spoken of in ‘baby’s asleep’ hushed tones, these precious truffles of slumber, buried deep under a forest floor of nappies, toys and baby’s first endeavours into expressed art via Pollock puke stained clothing, or indeed Rothko’s diaper brown period.
True there are beautiful life changing moments, helpfully enabled by simple biological chemistry as the body floods the mums entire body with endorphins to bond mother and baby forever more. Not everyone is so fortunate though, and there is plenty of prenatal and post-natal depression about that isn’t often spoken about, which can only add to the physical and emotional upheaval of pregnancy and childbirth. It’s a tremendously insecure time for the mum as everything that was once familiar for so long is now slowly mysteriously morphing before your very eyes. That includes your own perspective. That can all be unnerving as it is, so it certainly isn’t going to help if the beautiful baby gestating inside happens to be a homicidal serial killer. Step forward, slightly out of breath from the steps and being seven months pregnant, Alice Lowe’s fecund ‘Prevenge’ (2016).
Gleefully and mischievously flipping the premise of Oliver James ‘They F*ck You Up’ or indeed the Philip Larkin poem ‘This be the verse’ containing the lines:
“They f*ck you up, your mum and dad.
They may not mean to, but they do.
They fill you with the faults they had
And add some extra, just for you.
It provides us with the comedic VERY dark portrayal of the effects the child could have on the parent. This is dark British black humour (and horror) at it’s very best, and it’s relatively low budget only adds to the success of the work in that it instantly places the whole conception in our world (think Mike Leigh or Ken Loach), everything is immediately familiar to us, which makes the horror all the more potent. Similar to the finest works of Stephen King where he takes an everyday event, object or subject and makes it terrifying. Think the ‘Jaws’ theme song ‘dah, dah’ swapped with the beating fetal heart, we’re going to need a bigger crib. In the most wonderful way possible, any potential gormless misogynists (who are basically just scared of women) will be sprinting for miles if they see this movie and then chance upon a pregnant women.
There has been some turmoil in Ruth (Alice Lowe) and unborn baby’s life. Recently widowed, the future looks an insurmountable peak, thankfully for Ruth (but not anyone around her) guidance comes from the internal voice of baby who informs her how to slice the pain away, and literally gut and bury the suffering that has been caused. There’s a macabrely joyous matter of factness and logic in the way baby dispatches orders to mum, who summarily dispatches the individual who is the unfortunate focus at that moment. There’s a wonderful (insane) blend of efficiency and yeah, they sorta deserved that (not that I advocate such behaviour, but it certainly would solve bigotry pretty bloody quickly) in the way that people behave around pregnancy and women in general, treating childbirth like an affliction (there’s a fantastic job interview scene) rather than the most natural thing in the world.
Lowe wrote, directed and obviously starred in the leading role while she was actually pregnant herself, and is sublime throughout. It’s astutely written with some razor sharp lines, but also some rightly brutal observations about life that most folk wilfully ignore. In the best way possible it has similar tones to Ben Wheatley’s ‘Sightseers’ (which she co-created) in which Lowe starred as Tina, who was also prone to removing problematic folk. It’s Alice’s directorial debut, but there’s also plenty of potential (and hope) of Lowe rightly picking up the reigns of Chris Morris.
The movie looks great, has a fantastic score by the incredibly talented Toydrum and is refreshingly direct, focused, brutal in it’s honesty, and it’s pitch black comedy showing it truly was a labour of love, especially due to all the dead bodies strewn about.
9/10 Prevenge is out now.