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You're Dead Helene - What We Know So Far

A number of great films have started out as shorts. Given how big and risky of an investment a feature film can be, the presentation of an abridged, cheaper version as "proof of concept" and confirmation of the director's professional capability often makes all the difference in the long haul from page to screen. Even "The Evil Dead," one of the greatest undisputable classics in horror movie history, was only able to get made because director Sam Raimi first shot "Within the Woods," a 35-minute "prototype" version, in 1978 (via Indie Film Hustle).

Given his experience, it's no wonder Raimi would be sympathetic to other budding filmmakers going through the early-career cycle of calling-card short films. As a case in point, the prolific horror producer is now lending his cred to a feature adaptation of a short film that made a lot of noise during the 2021 festival circuit: Michiel Blanchart's "You're Dead Helene." Here's everything we know so far about this incredibly unique-sounding new project.

When will You're Dead Helene be released?

"T'es morte Hélène," the original French-Belgian short film from Belgian filmmaker Michiel Blanchart, was produced in 2020 and had its premiere at the Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival in February 2021 (via IMDb). It subsequently made the rounds in the worldwide festival circuit, picking up accolades such as the Best Live Action Short award at the Rhode Island International Film Festival, which currently places it under Academy Award consideration.

The film's feature-length adaptation, to be directed by Blanchart himself, recently had its rights acquired by TriStar Pictures in what Deadline described as "a competitive situation." Sam Raimi is producing along with Rob Tapert at Ghost House, while Michaël Goldberg and Boris Van Gils will be repping the project at fellow production house Playbox Pictures.

That's about all we know so far in terms of the project's status — meaning we're not likely to know much about release dates until the production comes further along. Given it's a genre film that has only just now been acquired, though, don't expect to see it sooner than 2023 at the earliest.

Who will be in the cast of You're Dead Helene?

It is often the case that short film adaptations retain some or all of their original cast in the move to feature-length. Owen and Luke Wilson were already the stars of the original 13-minute "Bottle Rocket," J.K. Simmons himself famously "originated" the role of Terence Fletcher in the 2013 "Whiplash" short film, and Lakeith Stanfield got his start as an actor in the role of Marcus in 2008's "Short Term 12" before reprising the role in the 2013 feature adaptation, to name some examples. That said, there are probably just as many examples of films that spring for more famous and expensive actors when given feature budgets — one famous instance being "Boogie Nights," which was considerably less star-studded when it was born in 1988 as the mockumentary short "The Dirk Diggler Story."

We don't know yet what will be the case with "You're Dead Helene." The short film starred Belgian actors Théophile Roux and Lucile Vignolles, whose previous acting credits were all Belgian and/or French productions. Although their work in the short was acclaimed, with Gruesome Magazine noting that "[Blanchart's] two leads give fantastic, nuanced performances," it's possible that the production will seek out North American actors if the movie is to be set in the U.S. instead of Belgium. This will all be clarified in the coming months as the pre-production process, including the casting, gets underway.

What will You're Dead Helene be about?

Described by Deadline as a "supernatural romantic comedy," "You're Dead Helene" appears to be following the same premise as the original short — which only makes sense, because it's a doozy. Like many romance films, "You're Dead Helene" tells the story of a couple in the throes of a no-longer-sustainable relationship. The twist, in this case, is the source of the troubles: The titular Helene is dead, and she continues to live with her boyfriend in spectral form and hang on to what they once had.

Although initially presented as a sincere romantic drama, following Maxime's (Roux) difficult decision to break up with Helene's (Vignolles) ghost, the short film eventually takes a swerve into horror as the situation's intrinsic morbidness became more and more conspicuous. We expect the feature version of "You're Dead Helene" to be going for a similarly delicate tone balance, especially considering what Sam Raimi has said about it.

"The film is touching and terrifying," the horror master said, as quoted by Deadline. "Michiel is one of the few modern directors that can balance humor and terror, and he does it in an exciting new way." There are few better indicators of a project's potential than being endorsed by the creator of "Evil Dead," so consider us wholly on board.