The new film “Prevenge” tells the tale of a pregnant widow who finds herself controlled by her unborn baby. The baby leads its mother on a massive killing spree to get revenge for its father’s death.
It is important to open with such a direct synopsis, because enjoyment of this film largely hinges on one’s ability to get on board with the premise of “Prevenge.” The movie is definitely an acquired taste and requires its audience to be in a certain headspace to really enjoy its dry and often gory humor. There are people who — understandably — will find “Prevenge” too weird, tasteless, morbid or violent. But anyone willing to go along with the film’s madness will find it an entertaining, funny and unique film.
“Prevenge” is the directorial debut of Alice Lowe, who also wrote the screenplay and stars as the pregnant killer. Most college students would probably recognize her from her work with Edgar Wright — he appeared in both “Hot Fuzz” and “The World’s End.” Lowe reveals she has a strikingly similar comedic taste to Wright in “Prevenge.” Between the snappy, expertly-timed deadpan delivery and the excellent visual gags, the film consistently earns laughs.
It’s no small feat to hold the wildly swaying tone of this film together. The tone flickers between moody introspection, body horror, comedy and regular old horror. It takes a lot to make each scene feel like it belongs in this universe, but it’s done particularly well. It’s especially impressive that the film continues to be tense and frightening, given that much of the horror centers around Lowe talking to her pregnant belly, listening to a high-pitched voice telling her to kill — yes, the baby gets a voice, and it sounds like the Rottweiler from “Up” with the broken voice collar.
It’s also impressive how much style Lowe has for a first-time director, capturing a kind of David Fincher-lite vibe. The hazy, muted palette; the electronic, unnerving score; the fluorescent lighting and the absurdist yet grounded tone — Lowe already has a visual style that elevates her work from just good to signature.
In many ways, the film is a star vehicle for Lowe, who steals the show in every scene. She makes the most casual lines hilarious and manages to make the image of an average-looking pregnant British woman terrifying and intimidating. Most impressively, she wasn’t using a fake belly for the film — she was actually pregnant during filming. Wherever her directing and writing careers take her, “Prevenge” firmly establishes her commitment as an actor.
The only major flaw is the ending, which feels a bit rushed and unrealized. But all together, “Prevenge” is a unique, frightening film that will no doubt build a dedicated cult fan base. If you’re looking for something weird, look no further.
“Prevenge” opens at the IFC Film Center at 323 Sixth Ave. on Friday, March 24 and will be available to stream nationwide the same day via Shudder.
Email Carter Glace at [email protected]