The three Greek Furies that feature prominently in the 1934 Noirish movie, Crime Without Passion, are the central metaphor in Alice Lowe’s extraordinarily dark Prevenge, billed as the world’s first pregnant, slasher, comedy, horror movie.
In it, Alice Lowe’s character, Ruth, embarks on a revenge murder spree goaded on by her helium-voiced, gestating baby.
It takes her to Wales and, in one breathtaking scene, the streets of Cardiff on Halloween night where she claims she almost needed protection from the boozed-up locals in a sequence reminiscent of Scarlett Johnassonn’s Under The Skin street walk in Glasgow.
The reason for her bloody revenge spree is only revealed in drips (so I won’t spoil it – like a preview I read before the screening did for me) which adds greatly to the narrative tension.
The making of this low budget Film Four offering is remarkable. Lowe was offered development money and finding herself pregnant used her condition to inspire this blackest of black script. She then wrote, produced, cast and filmed (in 11 days) the whole affair before her baby arrived.
Seeing an actor perform whilst heavily pregnant, and genuinely playing a pregnant character, is a rarity (my only recollection is Frances McDormand in Fargo) and Lowe certainly makes the most of the opportunity. Shooting took place in her late third Trimester.
The Furies are the ultimate avenging angels and she uses the extraordinary scenes from Crime Without Passion to symbolise her quest for justice, viewing the movie from the comfort of her hotel room where she takes respite, despite noisily bonking near neighbours, from her exhausting killings.
The killings themselves are simple but bloody affairs and each has hilarious set ups. Can she complete her task before the long arm of the law catches up on her careful forensic clean ups? You’ll have to see it to find out.
This is classic British black comedy at its best. Using its low budget as a virtue but still making some moments of genuinely great cinematography, most notably in an exotic pet shop and a beautiful full facial dream sequence in a yoga class.
It has echoes of Mike Leigh’s early work and Ben Wheatley’s Sightseers is an obvious reference point. Obvious because Lowe is its co-star and it too shares a murderous plotline.
But, comparisons aside, this is an entirely original take on several genres that does its damnedest to create a genre of its own.
Whether there’s room for thousands of pregnant, slasher, comedy, horror movies is debatable.
So we’ll just have to agree on one thing. The original and best.