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Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

Prevenge, or: Gestating Rage

If your biggest complaint about the Blog Collab is that we don’t feature nearly enough slashers about pregnant women on murdering sprees, I’ve got some good news for you. This week’s pick really leans into our month of feminist rage in a literal gory horror kind of way.

The Film:

Prevenge

Director:

Alice Lowe

The Premise:

Following the death of her partner, a pregnant woman follows the voice of her fetus to seek revenge.

The Ramble:

Standing alone somberly at the edge of a dramatic cliff, a pregnant Ruth doesn’t seem overly thrilled with the upcoming birth of her child. If your fetus were commanding you to kill, you’d perhaps feel a bit conflicted as well.

A woman in a glittery shirt sits next to a man at a bar.

Following the recent death of her partner along the cliff face, Ruth is out for revenge, driven largely by instructions from the voice of her child. Though her partner’s death seems to have been an accident, Ruth holds considers those rock climbing with him to share guilt. Feigning interest in a small animal shop to buy a lizard for her son, Ruth manages her first kill with surprising efficiency.

The advice of Ruth’s midwife that the baby will tell her what to do is quite literal as Ruth plans to continue her series of murders. From seducing a sleazy DJ at a ’70s-themed bar to tracking down a cold-hearted lawyer, Ruth’s most elusive victim is the one she holds most accountable: the leader of the rock climbing excursion that ended in her partner’s death. (It will be difficult for a What We Do in the Shadows fan to ignore that the rock climbing instructor is played by Kayvan Novak, aka Nandor.)

A pregnant woman holds out her arm on a table in front of a nurse.

As Ruth’s kill count increases, she becomes more conflicted. She fears her child will be taken away even as she confesses she’d trade the baby for her partner’s life if she could. With Ruth wavering, the fetal voice directs increasingly angry verbal abuse to its mother.

Appropriately, Ruth discovers an opportunity to rid the world of Nandor climbing instructor Tom because she never relents. Of course, just as Ruth is about to cross off that name on the murder list, she begins to go into labor. Will she manage to complete her last act of vengeance?

The Rating:

4/5 Pink Panther Heads

The very dark humor appeals (of course). Cliches about innocent children and the beautiful miracle of childbirth are challenged here as Ruth’s fetus says some rather mean, violent things to her. The humor does give way to reflections on grief that explain, though don’t justify, Ruth’s actions.

Almost all of the men are so creepy and gross that it’s difficult not to root for Ruth initially. However, her inner conflict does increase as she begins to grapple with some less clear-cut murders. I think a bit more structure would have helped the film here as it’s not always easy to understand how and why Ruth begins to feel conflicted beyond vague implications about the way she processes her grief.

Though it’s a narrative strategy of the film to slowly fill in details of the death of Ruth’s partner, some additional development there would have helped drive the story forward. It’s not entirely satisfying that the death is admittedly gruesome but accidental. On top of this, the murders get repetitive, particularly as there’s little emotional connection or even recognition by the victims.

These are fairly nitpicky points as the concept is great, and Alice Lowe’s triple threat of writing, directing, and starring here is so impressive.

Would my blog wife buy this one a drink (or six) or make it the victim of an elaborate revenge plot? Find out in her review!