Each year the PIFFF offers us a fine ol’ dose of creepy, bloody, glaucous images, and I must say that the 2016 vintage was particularly tasty. Chills, bursts and dark humour, the fantastic film genre takes all its cathartic dimension on in this festival (literally and figuratively) of disturbing and hilarious images … sometimes obscene as well, often jubilant.
But while some movies only serve us a good shot of adrenaline, others don’t miss the opportunity to offer us as well a scathing rereading of the society and its vices, which are far from being fictitious ..Nope, Ladies and Gentlemen, despite the disproportionate amount of liters of blood being poured, the violence of genre films is not necessarily meaningless and harebrained.
This is one of the qualities of the independent movie PREVENGE which marks its own originality not only by the pitch: a pregnant woman who is a serial-killer (whose fetus orders her to kill all the men she meets), but with its processus of creation and its very existence.
Prevenge is a movie of revenge around pregnancy which is performed, written and directed by a woman who is actually living her pregnancy.
We often hear about the records of millions of dollars spent for a production, as marketing argument / a good selling point, as if the cost of a movie was proportional to its quality (fortunately it is not the case), PREVENGE is in its way a true performance. Furiosa can take a lesson from this lady, let me introduce you to Alice Lowe, the warrior.
Written in two weeks, shot in eleven days (Alice Lowe embarked on the adventure on a sudden creative impulse, she didn’t want to consider her pregnancy as an excuse to stop working and she had to make it happen fast!) this British film (with the matching humor), is a black comedy that doesn’t hesitate to headbutt the myth of the “pregnant woman”, that we often consider as a sweet vulnerable thing , sometimes susceptible, angry, but still fairly gentle, fragile; a loving woman caressing her belly, staring dreamy while she carefully prepares all kind of soft-toys and rompers in a pre-decorated bedroom. Two options : pale pink or pastel blue. NOT THAT in PREVENGE ..
Ruth, the heroine, played by Alice (by the way she’s like a breath of fresh air by her “normality”. Yup, she’s a normal person, not a cyborg or a top-model), is a 35 years old widowed-single-pregnant woman who rather than celebrating
the future “happy event”, fears every day a little bit more , the forced cohabitation with her small (but growing) tenant.
During the slow and painful metamorphosis process which is already well established (7 months in the story and on set), she loses the control of her body, her mind enters a spin, also haunted by the dictator fetus and its little childish voice, so candid and cartoonish that it borders on ridicule, which actually adds to the discomfort of the film.
Therefore, a “dark conscience”, a kind of anti-Jiminy Cricket is now handling the vessel’s control and the viewer would easily visualize the creepy face of the Bride of Chucky. Pregnancy is not the miraculous alchemy where a human being takes shape and comes to life. It’s a conquest, an invasion, a hostage-taking
There is no doubt, Ruth is going to give birth to a monster. Not even yet come into the world, the ultra-feminist creature already knows all of its delusions and does not expect anything. Her will is simple and unequivocal: there is an urgent need to annihilate the male gender, there’s nothing good anymore to be expected from men, and even the “good” part of them is a lie. Ruth, both host and slave, must fulfill her mission otherwise …
First film directed by Alice Lowe, PREVENGE has the freshness and weakness of a first time. Since the opening scene, the way to frame appears quite febrile, already announcing the defective perception of the protagonist. The focus is regularly lost in a blur which, I confess, initially worried me a little bit. But the apprehension of falling on a “amateur”film flies very quickly.
Alice Lowe wins her gamble and brings the audience on board.
The opening scene sets the tone and is onviously efficient, and most of all the viewer can connect himself fast to a world which looks familiar. No situations beyond norms, only realistic, with all its disappointing, surprising, exasperating people and encounters. “Hell is other people”, the horror is ourselves.
The film mixes gore sequences, absurd dialogues, “cult” moments, but also some touching moments, absolutely. In the end we cohabit as well with Ruth and we finally find some common points with us and with some of our frustrations.
Ruth is somewhat reminiscent of a certain Annie (Kathy Bates in Misery) in all her ability to juggle between the character of the charming lady VS the unpredictable psychopath, she also reveals herself emotional, exhausted, desperate.
It’s a divided and damaged character, ideal to keep the audience on board until the last second of the film. And we accompany her willingly, Ruth becomes a bit like our buddy. As Alice her creator, she’s not the type to bite her tongue (she might bite yours), she doesn’t burden herself with guilt. And we would feel probably good if we could allow ourselves this kind of honesty.
She already has a lot to bear but she has nothing to lose.
If PREVENGE is a story of revenge, it also express a big feeling of exasperation. According to an interview published on the English website The Guardian, Alice Lowe is fed up with the general hypocrisy and the fact that one persists in making the arrival of a child the “beginning of the end”, as if she had no other choice than giving up on herself, her body, her mind, her time, her identity. According to Alice, even if becoming a parent has a real impact on one’s lifestyle, daily life, habits, self-perception of the body and of others, it still doesn’t fundamentally change us. We deeply remain the same, with the “good” and the “bad”.
And what if the child was really a revealer of who we are? By having full power over the existence of a vulnerable, innocent human being and by having the responsibility to take care of him/her, so what will be our choices?
We can only hope that Revenge will find soon a distributor in France and the success that, I think, it deserves. Alice Lowe who is mainly known as an actress for her role in TV show Garth Marenghi’s and that you might have seen in Sherlock, Little Britain and the movies Hot Fuzz, Locke, and the excellent Last Pub before the end of the World (by Edgar Wright) is now also to follow as a director. And good news, during her last visit at Dinard Festival, she announced that she was working on a new project as a director, according to her her “craziest project ever”. Now, I’m very very curious !
Meanwhile, thanks to her, I must say my little phobia of pregnancy seems to have found a cure. Because now I have no doubt about it, a woman can be a warrior while having a pretty round belly !