Forget everything you might have thought about hormone happy pregnant women. Alice Lowe’s maternal murder and mayhem is about to hit British screens. Petra Aydin Barberini spoke to it’s author/director and star at he Dinard Festival du Film Britannique. Eric Aydin Barberini provides the portrait.
Prevenge had it’s world premiere opening Critic’s Week at the Venice Film Festival, followed by festivals around the world including Toronto, Dinard and London.
I caught it as part of the features competition at the Dinard Festival du Film Britannique – a festival that draws together talent across genres and offers a platform for British film-makers at different career points.
The ‘Horror’ description of Prevenge is a bit off-putting – blood and guts doesn't normally appeal to me – but, reading further, I was intrigued. Actress Alice Lowe has written, acted and directed this black comedy, all while 7-8 months pregnant. As they entered the screening, the Dinard jury members were pointedly asked if they had a full stomach. I watched, albeit through my fingers at times, but I loved it.
Recently bereaved and pregnant, Ruth (Lowe) struggles with grief, loneliness and a peculiar pre-partum madness. As a narrator, Ruth is less than reliable; driven, by the voice of her unborn child, to wreak revenge on her unsuspecting victims. Lowe’s film certainly challenges how society views pregnant women.
Lowe’s screenwriting debut began with Sightseers, directed by Ben Wheatley, but Prevenge is her first feature as writer and director and actor. She has served her time as an actor in TV and film, including Darkplace, Paddington, Hot Fuzz, Horrible Histories, and starring in UK indie film hits such as Black Mountain Poets, Adult Life Skills and Locke and, in Prevenge, she leads a strong UK cast. Lowe leads cast Jo Hartley (This Is England, Eddie the Eagle), Gemma Whelan (Game of Thrones), Kate Dickie (Red Road), Kayvan Novak (Fonejacker), Tom Davis (Murder in Successville), Dan Skinner (High-Rise), Tom Meeten (The Ghoul) and Mike Wozniak (Man Down)
Lowe wrote Prevenge in a two-week period, knowing that she was pregnant and wouldn't be able to work on other projects. Having decided to take control she said, “It feels like a promotion. It's a relief. I get to express my feelings”.
The script was written almost as a series of self-contained episodes, allowing for ease of filming and Lowe gave herself 11 days in which to complete the movie, so that she wouldn’t be too exhausted. At Dinard, on the red carpet and during interviews, Lowe's filmstar baby, Della Moon, dominates, proving beyond doubt that this was the right way to work. Lowe talks of the empowering rush of positivity she experienced (even whilst making such a bloodthirsty movie) by knowing she was completely in charge. Motherhood was not going to limit her career. Producer Vaughan Sivell, who is attempting to distract the baby Della long enough for a sensible interview, chips in to say that Lowe was uninsurable. Daring to take risks allowed Lowe to complete her vision without compromise. Lowe successfully converts us to the power of comedic horror.
Prevenge is the writing and directing debut feature by Alice Lowe and is produced by Vaughan Sivell, Will Kane and Jen Handorf, a Western Edge production for the Gennaker group. Kaleidoscope Entertainment will release the film on 10 February 2017. There are Q & A events accompanying the film throughout the UK.
Read more from Petra Aydin Barberini on the Dinard Festival du Film Brittanique here
Film Stills courtesyof Western Edge/Gennaker
Portrait Image: Producer Vaughn Sivell, Baby Della Moon and Alice Lowe © Eric Aydin Barberini, 2016