FrightFest 2014: Alleluia
Volver's Lola Dueñas stars in a blood-splattered psychodrama outlining the perils of online dating
A directors' fortnight selection at Cannes 2014, this blood-splattered Belgian-French psychological horror is the fourth feature from writer-director Fabrice Du Welz. The subject is the dangers of online dating; Du Welz conjures up a small scale but compelling narrative about a single mother who comes into conflict with a deeply duplicitous man and turns out to have some underlying issues of her own which manifest themselves in homicidal impulses.
Escaping a bad relationship, Gloria (Lola Dueñas from Pedro Almodóvar’s Volver) attempts to restart her life with her daughter, with a change of location and a new day job in a hospital morgue. To dispel the gloom, Gloria agrees to dinner with Michel (Laurent Lucas), a charismatic shoe salesman she meets on a dating website. Michel, a con-man with a gift for charming women, persuades Gloria to part with some hard-earned cash and quickly vanishes. Gloria successfully tracks him down, and responds by developing an off-kilter partnership with him; soon they’re preying on a succession of lonely widows, but Gloria is developing possessive feelings for Michel that inevitably explode into violence.
Du Welz’s stark and chilling film in four chapters is a modern update of the well-known criminal escapades of Martha Beck and Raymond Fernandez, who made headlines in the late 40s and inspired other retellings of their murder-sprees, including 1969’s The Honeymoon Killers. Despite the title, Alleluia has little religious or spiritual content; the characters are decidedly immoral in their own individual fashions, and the strange rituals they perform are self-seeking rather than holy.
With noir-esque cinematography by Manuel Dacosse, Alleluia is an unpleasantly perverse psychodrama that certainly delivers on the nastiness of the premise; Dueñas and Lucas both give intense performances, and the result is enough to make both sexes think twice about online romance.
Screening at Vue West End, Leicester Square, London on Mon 25 Aug as part of FrightFest 2014.