“Are you a sorcerer?” Marguerite (Édith Le Merdy) to Michel (Laurent Lucas)
Forget the seductive glamour of BONNIE AND CLYDE (1967) as far as killing sprees go, movies don’t come as skin-crawlingly sexual as ALLELUIA. For all the copulation, erotic is not a word that would be used to illustrate. While the characters are being exploited, thankfully the actors are not – the otherwise usual default mode it feels for the horror genre.
If you’ve seen VINYAN (2008), you’ll know that director Fabrice Du Welz is not unskilled in corralling clammy, grimy tension. Opening on Gloria (Lola Dueñas – Almodóvar regular) washing a cadaver in a morgue – a horror job if there was one – where the camera lingers over the ritual. (The epilogue almost matches this prologue.) Self-consciously titling “Act 1” adds a literary/theatrical expectation, subverted by composed, claustrophobic lightning not able to be replicated in any other art form. Gloria is its subject, and each subsequent act is another female victim of Michel – a man we witness conduct a creepy, almost satanic ritual for women to fall under his spell. Is that another red herring one questions?
Scratching out the face of your ex on all group photos is not a sign of a smooth break-up. Tentatively re-entering the romantic arena, friend Madeleine (Stéphane Bissot) encourages Gloria to go on a date with Michel, which immediately leads to obsession and the giving away of her money. Once separated from finances, conman Michel moves on, suggesting Gloria is an uncountable notch on his scam bedpost; little though did he realise what he bargained with. Abandoning her young daughter Marguerite on Madeleine, Gloria allows Michel to unburden himself by sharing in his exploits.
Jealous to the point of unhinged, Gloria is a modern day Lady Macbeth goading on Michel to collude in homicide when she can’t stand his brand of amorous bait. Transformation from victim into monster is so fast as to wonder as much about psychological maladjustment as to the supernatural.
Conniving, manipulative Michel is so cheesy as to turn the stomach. Such a protagonist would not be out of place in the work of Larry David/Ricky Gervais/Christopher Guest. Wait till you get a load of him mimicking the debonair Humphrey Bogart in THE AFRICAN QUEEN.
When it comes time for bloodletting, the filmmakers don’t skimp, but with some twists, e.g. having Gloria sing a song before commencing dismemberment, in one take, is an unusual scene.
Eat after, if you still have an appetite.