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Boston Underground Film Festival preview: ‘Prevenge’, ’68 Kill’, ‘Most Beautiful Island’ and more

 

This year’s Boston Underground Film Festival (here on referred to as “the BUFF”) promises to be an excellent one.

The fest, which takes place in Cambridge at the Brattle and Harvard Film Archive and runs from March 22 to the 26, is one of the great gems of the local film scene. The schedule is absolutely fantastic this year, which we should know, because we’ve saw a lot of the major films in the line-up at SXSW a week ago.

 

In addition to the already-reviewed Hounds of Love, here are our takes on three of the fest’s biggest gets, and some other picks for a packed weekend of off-the-beaten-path filmgoing.

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Prevenge

The BUFF kicks off with Alice Lowe’s revenge thriller Prevenge, which screened at SXSW and is an absolute delight that should not be missed. It’s almost cliche at this point to point out all of the terrors involved in pregnancy — plenty of other excellent films have already made their points, like Rosemary’s Baby, Grace, and Demon Seed — but this British film manages to break new ground in an interesting and effective way.

Prevenge tells the story of a pregnant woman named Ruth who has just suffered an impossible tragedy: Her husband was killed in a tragic climbing accident, and she’s alone and terrified, aside from her still-in-utero child who begins telling her to do horrible things. Soon enough, Ruth and her baby embark on a quest to exact their revenge on the people who were with her husband on that climbing expedition, and it’ll lead her to some pretty dark places.

 
 

Lowe, perhaps best known for her collaborations as an actress with directors like Edgar Wright and Ben Wheatley, has taken the old adage about Ginger Rogers doing everything Astaire did “backwards and in heels” to an impossibly new and difficult degree — she directed and starred in Prevenge while actually pregnant with her daughter. Lowe commits herself absolutely to the performance, and she’s wonderful, no matter what situation she’s thrown into. It’s occasionally very funny and surprisingly grisly from time to time (there’s one bit involving a character named DJ Dan (Tom Davis), a crappy emcee with a fake afro who hits on Ruth uncomfortably, that’s sure to make those with Y-chromosomes in the audience cross their legs with discomfort), and the cinematography is effective and interesting, especially when blended with the great effects and make-up work. Prevenge really comes together at the end, where Lowe makes some incredible decisions that wind up subverting the whole damn genre, and it’s bound to gain a following amongst discerning horror fans.

Prevenge screens at the Brattle on Wednesday, March 22 at 7 p.m.

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