Friday, November 03, 2023

Helen’s Dead

Snark and boredom were never murder weapons in Clue, but maybe at this homicidal dinner party. The victim will probably be the lucky one, because she can escape the tiresome conversation and not so thinly disguised contempt. Everyone will have a bad night in K. Asher Levin’s Helen’s Dead, which releases today in theaters and on VOD.

Addie’s loser boyfriend Adam thinks he has been cheating on her with her cousin Helen, but the soon to be murder victim just considers him an awful one-time mistake. Addie is expected at a dinner party hosted by Helen’s sister, Leila, a disgraced influencer trying to mount a comeback, and her snotty husband George. However, cousin Addie launches on a drunken bender instead when Adam accidentally sends her a sext intended for Helen. Instead of Addie, Helen shows up, hoping to escape her dodgy underworld creditor, Henry.

Of course, Adam then arrives looking for Helen and eventually Addie drunkenly rolls in, hoping to avoid both of them. Garrett also crashes, because Helen inexplicably invited him, but since Leila’s hipster financier guest canceled, she hires the struggling thesp to impersonate him (badly, of course). She wants to impress Molly, a
Vanity Fair-esque “journalist,” who intends to publish a hit piece on Leila. The party takes a downer turn when Helen’s dead body is discovered, an apparent poisoning victim. That makes Henry upset when crashes the party, expecting her to help him hold-up and shake-down the party.

Helen’s Dead
is billed as mystery-comedy but it is about as funny as a case of dry-rot. Maybe a sharper ensemble cast might have sold it better, but it still would have been a struggle. Regardless, Emile Hirsch is spectacularly cringey as the obnoxiously abrasive Adam. Brian Huskey’s George is also a bargain-basement Frasier Crane, who is often as off-putting as fingernails on a blackboard.

Somehow, Annabelle Dexter-Jones gets a few (sparse) laughs as the
Ab-Fab-ish Leila and Fast & Furious’s Tyrese Gibson is convincingly enraged, probably because he agreed to be in this film. Of course, it all starts and ends with the writing, but the frequent ventures into improv were misguided.

One good thing about
Helen’s Dead is that it will soon fade from memory. It is all just very blah, yet also frequently annoying. Not recommended, Helen’s Dead opens today (11/3) at the CityPlex 12 Newark.