It’s exciting to see Shyamalan on such confident footing once more, all these years later.
Oppressively bleak mood piece "Alléluia" is a horror film for people who like to be scared by a grim, joyless and thoroughly depressing character study. To be fair, the film's based-on-a-true-story subject doesn't exactly lend itself to screwball comedy. "Alléluia" is based loosely on the real-life case of the Lonely Hearts Killers, a pair of American serial killers whose mad love led to the murder of approximately 20 women in the late '40s.
In his tribute to the Lonely Hearts killers, Belgian co-writer/director Fabrice Du Welz ("Vinyan," "Calvaire") struggles to foster a claustrophobically unsettling mood that's all the more frustrating for its infrequent bursts of jet-black humor. Sadly, there's nothing funny, or especially provocative about "Alléluia" since the film's impressionistic style is so shallow that one can't help but feel like you're watching a technically accomplished vision of love according to an especially angsty goth teenager.
"Alléluia" is about the stifling tunnel vision that anyone who experiences love pangs goes through, as is made clear in a glaringly ironic line of dialogue: "Being in love is magnificent." That line is spoken by Madeleine (Stéphanie Bissot), a lonely single woman who is preyed upon by Michel (Laurent Lucas), a socially maladjusted lady-killer. Michel is supposed to be deeply troubled, but also mysteriously seductive. He's most attractive when he overcomes initial jitters, and impresses Gloria (Lola Dueñas), a single mother and Michel's future partner-in-crime, over dinner by speculating authoritatively about nearby patrons' personalities based on their footwear (Michel is a shoe salesman).
After that dinner date, Gloria falls very hard for Michel. You can tell she's enamored by Michel from the creepy, doe-eyed leer that Dueñas almost always has plastered on her face during Michel and Gloria's early honeymoon period. Soon afterwards, Gloria discovers that Michel seduces lonely women, and takes their money. Being an unhinged crazy with no discernible motives beyond pure blinkered desperation, Gloria enthusiastically offers to help Michel steal from hapless plain janes. Gloria's obsession with being Michel's assistant provides "Alléluia" with its narrative arc since she increasingly clings to their odds-and-ends love, though it's hard to tell based solely on the film's pseudo-evocative mood lighting.