Friday, September 16, 2016

Alleliua [2014]

Alléliua [2014]

Outside of South Korea and Japan, not many countries can dish out a bat shit crazy woman like the French.  Be it Béadrice Dalle, Marina de Van, Cécille De France or Charlotte Gainsbourg, the French just know how to make sexy violent insane broads.  So successful in fact dudes had to name it, New French Extremity.

Well just north of the birthplace of New French Extremity is this quaint little country called Belgium, and it's home to one of modern horrors most unique auteurs, Fabrice Du Welz, acclaimed director/writer of 2004's Calvaire, 2008's Vinyan, and this review's, 2014's Alléliua, featuring the bat shit crazy woman of the year award winner, Lola Dueñas.

This film is some messed up.

Michel (Laurent Lucas) is an online con-artist and sexual predator.  Gloria (Lola Dueñas) is a morgue attendant with fear of abandonment and obsession/stalking issues.  When the Internet chances them together on some sort of, a blind date turns into a lustful one-night stand and a unique offer, Michel never thought would have been possible, leads to a murderous trek of deceit, embroiled passion, and horrific violence.

Loosely based on the murderous rampage of The Lonely Hearts Killers, and chaptered by individual marks (victims), Alléliua is an engrossing episode of unconditional love and unbridled obsession.
Each playing a part in the relationship's genesis and dissolution.

And it's that relationship that will decide whether you dislike or love this film, as it requires your complete and absolute entrancement.  For me, it was hypnotic.  Du Welz' use of camera angles, set design, soundscore, gritty 16mm, and acute script set the stage for the leads, and they admirably knock it out of the park.

Du Welz favourite, Laurent Lucas is amazing as the womanizing charmer and slimy swindler, but gladly hands over the reins to the magnificent performance of Dueñas.  She is marvelously bonkers.
With each chapter her unhinged jealousy increases until the inevitable finale proving love to be the most beautiful and destructive force on the planet.


Saturday, September 3, 2016

The Invitation [2015]


This review has probably been the most arduous task I've endeavoured to complete yet.  The Invitation is bad, really fuckin' bad.  So bad I'm almost speechless.  Let me break it down.

"This is our recruitment, but not recruiting you, video"

Will and Kira are on their way to a dinner party with old friends they haven't seen for years.  This is to exploit the recent successes of other dinner-party themed movies (see Cheap Thrills or Coherence).  The last time they all met, Will was married to Eden (party co-host), and during their 5 year old son Ty's birthday party the kid somehow dies, ruining their marriage and disbanding their clique of imbeciles.

"Hold your "center" like I'm going to hold my Oscar, Michiel" - Kusama.

Before arriving, Will hits a coyote and has to finish killing it with a tire iron.  This is supposed to represent the misery in society and how it must be dealt with.

After they arrive the old friends catch up, and we find out that not a single person, outside of Will, have any depth whatsoever.  Unless you'd call our other co-host (David), who, along with Eden, have been spending most of their time in Mexico (healing) in a communion (cult) - David was a "coked-out music producer", as profound.  Then, if you think the party couldn't get any lack of character, enter Pruitt!  Played by the one (dimensional) hit wonder himself, the sinister and dead-panned face, Mr. John Carroll Lynch!

"Make a happy face John, goooooood."

We learn Pruitt and a second stranger at the party are fellow friends from their Mexican sect, Will is a bit paranoid, David and Eden are waaaaay too happy and dislike shoes, and Choi is fuckin' late, A-gain!  Fast forward 10 mins and a couple bottles of booze later, and David and Eden bring out their cult's recruitment video (the first subplot dead-end), which just happens to show another fellow member die of cancer.  Yay, for dinner parties!

Talk to the hand, David, I'm suspicious.

David senses the disheartening of his guests and calls an audible, every dinner parties favourite tension breaker - a party game!  Akin to "I've Never", they begin to play "I Want", where everyone gets to disclose a secret desire, without judgment, criticism, or harm.  Eden wants to kiss Ben, Gina wants some coke, Tommy wants a blow job, poor little Ty didn't want to die, but then there wouldn't be a movie, wouldn't there Ty?  And Pruitt wants to tell everyone about his wife, the one he beat to death in a drunken rage.  Jackpot!

Dr. Joseph and Dr. Botox turned my grief into perma-puffy smile.

At this point any viewer who isn't retarded, braindead, or asleep can pinpoint the antagonists and realize something sinister is forthcoming.  It's at this time director Karyn Kusama (from AeonFlux and Jennifer's Body fame) tries to further establish a lightly touched upon but far fetched idea that Will is so grief stricken and paranoid that only he's noticed the bars on the windows, the doors locked from the inside, David and Eden not inviting them to the cult and not wearing shoes, the gigantic pill container full of barbiturates, everyone acting just a tad bit on the cult-ish side, and Pruitt is fuckin' John Carroll Lynch!  Our second subplot dead-end.

JCL doing a his JCL impression.

But let's forget all that because Choi showed up!

You'd think that this would be the time to build up Will's paranoia, but nope, Kusama thinks this is ample reason and a good enough time to reveal the mind-bending twist that David, Eden and Pruitt are going to kill them all.

"Oh my fuck" is right, Bubbles.

The long and drawn-out poisoned wine scene, catered by the neon sign of all string acoustics, coupled with the suspicious demeanour of the cultists, and Will's paranoid outburst is just comical.

The worst thing a bad movie can do is not reward your patience with a decent ending.  But the payoff was less gory, less violent and less satisfying than the attempted build up would've demanded, if there was some.   It was predictable, ignored the subtext of grief, passed-over an excellent opportunities (like really emphasizing Will's paranoia or reveal Pruitt to be a surprise hero), and nefariously dragged on too long.

Cult, murder, inescapable house...dat wine doh.

Take note of the moment where Will is trying to calm down Kira by telling her "they're just people, ok", as if this were a slasher and John Carroll Lynch wore a hockey mask and was unkillable.  It's priceless.

The red-light district, LA.

The film finishes with wannabe "A-Ha" moment, that is I'm assuming is supposed to justify everyone's actions but at that point I couldn't even care less.  All that was left was the biggest mystery of all...who cooked the lavish dinner spread, and when?