With ‘Prevenge,’ Alice Lowe pops out a classic

Prevenge/2016/88 min.

I don’t know filmmaker and mother Alice Lowe but I’d be willing to bet that if she was given a baby shower, she banned boring guessing games and gluten-free, sugarless cupcakes. Instead, she might have shown “The Shining” and served hefty slabs of juicy red meat.

A bit of a random speculation, perhaps, but not after you see her sly, subversive black comedy, “Prevenge,” which she wrote, directed and starred in, well into her first pregnancy.

Lowe (whose credits include “Hot Fuzz,” “Sightseers” and “Locke”) plays Ruth, a single, soon-to-be mother who’s also a serial murderer with a talent for disguises and a penchant for gore. Why does Ruth kill? Because the demanding little fetus that has taken over her body is telling her to, natch. And because she feels betrayed by the loss of the baby’s father.

Lowe tells a smart, taut and funny yarn, with shades of Stanley Kubrick and Monty Python, raising provocative questions about women, motherhood and the way society tends to pigeonhole women who choose to have kids. She’s joined by a strong cast: Gemma Whelan and Kate Dickie (from “Game of Thrones”), Tom Davis and Kayvan Novak.

Admirably, Lowe takes a few risks with the script. For example, she doesn’t beg the audience to sympathize with the demented Ruth. “Though you might come to like her towards the end, I didn’t want it to be too easy at the start,” said Lowe at a recent screening and reception at Cinefamily in Los Angeles.

Easy, no. But entertaining? Very much so.

“Prevenge” opens on Shudder on Friday, March 24.

The film also screened at AFI FEST 2016 presented by Audi.

Share on FacebookShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on RedditEmail this to someoneTweet about this on Twitter

‘Sightseers’ is more arduous slog than absurd journey

Sightseers/2012/IFC Films/89 min.

British horror director Ben Wheatley’s new film “Sightseers” has a brilliant comic premise: A frumpy couple takes a caravan holiday in Northern England to enjoy a little romance, see some historic sights and do a bit of writing. Chris (Steve Oram) is a wannabe author and Tina (Alice Lowe) is his muse, natch.

This idyll is inevitably interrupted by pesky people, i. e. fellow tourists, who grate on the pair’s nerves. After accidentally running down a loutish litterbug, Chris and Tina figure they might as well do away with other pests, posers and partiers.

Chris and Tina shift easily from annoying to absurdly amoral. And this dark setup is potentially entertaining – most of us have a story about obnoxious people we’ve met while traveling and really wish we hadn’t. Unfortunately, though, I didn’t find “Sightseers” very funny, mainly because the script (by Oram and Lowe) seems clumsy, and Chris and Tina’s clichéd relationship is overly manipulated.

I can’t escape the feeling that Wheatley, whose last film was “Kill List,” another tale of unpleasant people doing ghastly deeds, infuses his films with a sense of spontaneity, creepy atmosphere, a snide hipster vibe and not a whole lot else.

That said, I did enjoy the film’s final twist. If you find yourself in a misanthropic frame of mind, this movie could be a trip worth taking.

“Sightseers” opens today at Landmark’s Sunshine Cinema in New York and at Landmark’s Nuart Theatre in West LA.

Share on FacebookShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on RedditEmail this to someoneTweet about this on Twitter