Writer/director Michiel Blanchart’s Belgian/French short film You’re Dead Hélène (T’es morte Hélène; 2021) is a remarkable genre-blending effort that takes viewers on a ride through three different storytelling genres and a wide range of emotions.
Hélène (Lucile Vignolles) is in a complicated relationship with Maxime (Théophile Roux). She is having a hard time letting go even though, as the film’s title states, she is dead. Her ghost spends as much time as she can with Maxime — pretty much all of the time, because she has little else to do as a specter — even though he is ready to move on and find a new relationship with someone who is still alive.
You’re Dead Hélène starts off as a comedy, with Hélène acting obnoxiously in a cinema when a man takes her seat. Viewers get to know the two lead characters well during the early scenes, so by the time Maxime meets someone new, the stakes are high when Hélène’s anger grows and the short moves into full-on horror territory. I won’t spoil the third act, of course, but suffice it to say that it contains some fine drama.
All of the technical aspects of You’re Dead Hélène are top-notch, giving the short the feeling of a higher-budgeted feature-length film. Blanchart shows that he is highly skilled at helming and writing in multiple genres, and his two leads give fantastic, nuanced performances. Sylvestre Vannoorenberghe’s cinematography is terrific, wonderfully capturing the rich color palette on display.
I highly recommend adding You’re Dead Hélène to your need-to-seek-out lists. It is easily one of the finest genre-film shorts currently on the festival circuit.(4.5 / 5)
You’re Dead Hélène screened as part of SLASH Film Festival, which ran online as a virtual event and as in-person event in Vienna, Austria from September 23–October 3, 2021.