Directed by K. Asher Levin from a script he co-wrote with Amy Brown Carver, Helen’s Dead is not entirely original as it features a home where a dinner party is being planned, one person is presumed dead within the house, and all the guests are suspects. I looked forward to viewing this film when I read about the cast, which includes Emile Hirsch and Tyrese Gibson. They have each starred in movies where I have enjoyed their performances, but even the most talented actors can only save a film if the story is engaging enough. I admire the filmmakers for their efforts, but instead of keeping me on the edge of my seat with mystery, I was disappointed except for a few bright spots. The actors did their best with the characters as they were written. Hirsch and Gibson are talented but cannot elevate the script alone.
Adam (Emile Hirsch, The Price We Pay, Midnight in the Switchgrass) has a long-term girlfriend, Addie (Dylan Gelula). The fizzle has left their relationship, as seen by his talking down to her, ranting and belittling comments. We soon see he is doing this to break up with her with plans to take up with her cousin/BFF, Helen (Matilda Lutz, Final Cut). Adam screws up and texts the information to Addie, thus setting up a chain of events by dinner time.
Leila (Annabelle Dexter-Jones, “Succession” TV series) is a relative of Addie/Helen. As a lifestyle influencer, she hosts a dinner party to gain traction on her stale career. She is anticipating an interview from a journalist, Molly (Beth Dover, “Orange is the New Black” TV series). Her husband George (Brian Huskey, “Bob’s Burgers” TV series) appears supportive of her efforts, preparing things for the party, but her personality is grating. She finds fault in all he does and blames him for faulty Wi-Fi, among other things. (Of course, no one will be able to reach the outside world – how convenient!)
Among the unannounced/uninvited guests is a community theater artist named Garrett (Oliver Cooper, “Red Oaks” TV series), claiming to be there for Helen as involved romantically (but he seems to be there for a free meal and network for his career). Henry (Tyrese Gibson, Fast X, The Fast and the Furious movie franchise) arrives during the latter part of this chaos, also claiming Helen is “my girl.” She talked up her relative’s wealth a bit too much. He did not come to have dinner as he is armed and prepared for a fight. In case you may have noticed, the murder mystery switches to a thriller and becomes focused on who will survive the unanticipated home invasion. By this time, too much is going on to be concerned about what happened to Helen.
The film is not a complete waste of time, but if you are watching from home and fall asleep, you can try another day. There is nothing to binge-watch here.
Runtime: 84 Minutes
Source: Screen Media