The Martian - Hard to rate this film. I liked it and it was compelling enough but it never reaches an intensity or depth that would make it truly memorable. I'd watch Gravity again over this. Good performances abound and the effects are great. It's almost all constant exposition though. 7.5/10
Knew nothing about it going in, which I'm glad for. What a rollercoaster. I won't say too much because not knowing is key. But a mixture of performances, ranging from mediocre to downright incredible. Characters are in the same vein. Effects, well, whats there is done very well, not much of them though.
Overall this was a surprising paranoid flick that really grabs you by the balls. I caught a lot of similarities to 'Bug' and the obvious reference to Invasion of the Body Snatches is there too. Really glad I checked this out, thanks for drafting it, Lusty!! ( :
A Maestro of Horror. A genre Master. And a legend of the Sliver Screen. Wes Craven 1939 ~ 2015
Even though a little middle-aged Belgian man called Fabrice Du Welz has only made three feature films in his career, he still happens to be one of my favourite directors. My love affair started when I sat and watched a film called Calvaire which left me dumbstruck and disturbed. How it still hasnít become an iconic horror classic is still beyond me. I love every single thing about it, even down to the little details like the name, Marc Stevens and his bulky Michelin Man red coat. Itís one of my favourite ever films. Then came an underrated little atmospheric English-language horror called, Vinyan. You can imagine my excitement when Fabrice announced a thematic sequel to Calvaire starring Laurent Lucas and featuring Fabriceís favourite theme of Ďmad loveí.
I was blown away by the intense trailer but unfortunately the film wasnít getting much buzz. Even now, after it has been released for yonks, no one seems to be talking about it or seeing it. Thereís barely five reviews on IMDb and the message board is dead in the water, but oh well itís everyone elseís loss! Alleluia is an electrifying slice of raw and intense romantic horror. Well, I say romantic, itís Fabriceís idea of romantic which tends to involve obsessive psychopaths. His debut short film, A Wonderful Love featured a woman falling in love with the corpse of a stripper and Calvaire saw an inn keeper convincing himself that a male guest was his long-lost wife. Alleluia tells the tale of an insane woman becoming besotted with an insane man and going on a killing spree.
Itís frightening to think that Alleluia is actually based on a real-life case in America where a couple ended up murdering 17 women in America during the 1940ís. Fabrice of course puts his unique spin on things. It opens with a disturbing shot of our hero, Gloria sponging the body of a corpse in the morgue she works at. She then stops and looks directly at us sitting in our little living room arm chairs with her wide eyes penetrating our souls until ĎAlleluiaí flashes up on the screen. Right away you know that youíre in for the Fabrice Du Welz experience.
Alleluia has that same grainy, dirty look as Fabriceís other films. It feels incredibly raw and scarily real, almost like one of Lars Von Trierís Dogme films. Thereís also a strong claustrophobic atmosphere throughout thanks to the intrusive camerawork which is almost always in front of the actorsí faces or backs. Inf act, itís pretty jarring whenever weíre given a long-shot, itís almost as though the film is allowing you to breathe. All of the lighting feels very natural too with dark scenes being almost completely black and grainy so that itís impossible to tell whatís going on. All of this contributes to an overall atmospheric and intense experience throughout.
What surprised me was the stupendous quality of acting from our main stars. Laurent Lucas is usually cast as the charming goody in the films heís in but has lately been venturing into darker territory. Those who saw the recent French series, Witnesses where Laurent played an everyday family man who liked to put white make-up on his face and kill young women at night wonít be surprised to find out that heís similarly chilling the role of Michel. We first see him performing some sort of voodoo on a photo of Gloria before he meets her for the first time and he only gets creepier from there. Laurent puts on a strange raspy voice and plays the part of the serial seducer extremely convincingly and never without a psychotic glint in his eyes.
Itís Lola as Gloria who steals the show though. Lola too usually plays the part of the kindly woman, mostly in Pedro Almodovarís terrific dramas. Here sheís in total psycho mode as the dangerously obsessed lover who will do absolutely anything and everything for Michel. In fact, Gloria makes Michel look positively normal in comparison and Lola acts the hell out of it without it ever feeling too over-the-top. In a fair world, the Academy wouldíve recognised Alleluia and popped Lola up for an Oscar nom. Iím not even kidding, she really is that good!
Alleluia is split into four acts, all named after the women Michel seduces. Their master plan is for Gloria to pose as Michelís brother whilst Michel seduces the women and steals of their money. However, thereís that old green-eyed monster in the way called Jealousy. Gloria does not like seeing Michel being affectionate with the old women heís marrying and so intense violence and chaos ensues for the majority of Alleluiaís tight 90 minute runtime. To say any more about the plot would be to spoil the fun of it all. I can tell you, though that there was not one moment where I was bored. Alleluia always kept me gripped by the throat and didnít let go.
Whilst the film is less surreal than Fabriceís previous efforts, itís still absolutely insane and full of WTF moments. For me Calvaire feels like a string of iconic moments and Alleluia has a few of them too. My favourites include a bizarre Magnolia-styled musical interlude (with added corpses), a creepy Humphrey Bogart-infused trip to the cinema and a disorientating segment which sees the couple dancing around naked in flames with grinding electronic music. The film has more than its fair share of sensory overload and it all makes for an unpredictable and absorbing experience. It also has lots of brilliant uses of black humour. The best example probably comes from when Michel is trying to fleece a religious woman by telling her blatant lies whilst Gloria hysterically laughs, covering it up as hysterical cries.
The strongest segment is arguably the final act which results in a terrifyingly intense finale which leaves you begging for more. Alleluia really is a blistering thriller full of shocking violence, stupendous acting and intense directing. Chances are that youíve never heard of it so itís your duty to seek this out and give it the attention it deserves. I canít imagine anyone being disappointed.
Bad Moon - 8/10 (maybe one of the best looking werewolves of any film) Village of the Damned - 7/10 (good movie, but it just doesn't "feel" like a John Carpenter movie) I Spit On Your Grave - 9/10 (too bad the main star's ass doesn't look as good as the one on the cover) The Last House On The Left - 9/10 **(does anyone know if the 91 minute "original cut" exists anywhere???)
** I saw on IMDb that there is an "original cut" of Last House that is 91 mins. long. My dvd is 84 mins. long and every copy online I've found was the same or shorter. Does it exist anywhere? And which version of the MGM dvd has the Wes Craven commentary? Mine just has actor's commentary but I read Wes' commentary was on the MGM dvd. Did they release it twice?**
Runtime: 84 min | 64 min (heavily cut) | 91 min (original cut) | 82 min (R-rated)