Vincent doir mourir

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DIRECTED BY: Stéphan Castang

FEATURING: Karim Leklou, Vimala Pons, François Chattot

PLOT: Vincent flees his humdrum city life when it takes a deadly turn as more and more strangers try to kill him.

Still from "Vincent Must Die" (2023)

WHY IT SHOULD MAKE THE APOCRYPHA: L’absurde et la comédie comme Dupieux, le commentaire social comme Godard, et un peu d’ultra-violence comme Romero? Une combinaison gagnante.

COMMENTS: Vincent’s boss had a dream: a horde of deer in an open field, his mother in a grand, flowing dress—just like she has in real life!—and a newly-grown pair of antlers. What could it mean? Vincent (Karim Leklou) doesn’t care; politely, he shifts the conversation to inquire who that new guy is. Boss tells him it’s Hugo the intern. Vincent jokes to the new lad, “Where’s my coffee?” It falls flat, and later that day Vincent’s face gets smashed by repeated laptop blows from the intern. It’s all very calm, and sets a comedic start ahead of the ratcheting horror to come.

Castang is one of those irritatingly sure-handed newcomers, having floored the audience at Cannes with his feature debut Vincent Must Die before shuffling it across the Atlantic to floor the Fantasia audience. Vincent’s journey from mild-mannered office jockey to prey is more of a shift in his bodily injuries than his behavior. Leklou conveys affable soft-spoken softness and sheer personal terror with masterful body language, apt facial expressions, and (almost) unfailing placidity.

The premise could well have been concocted during a night of one-upsmanship between Godard and Dupieux, with heavy references to Weekend and the quiet office absurdity permeating Keep An Eye Out. For reasons never explained, more and more people—strangers, friends, and even the damaged manic-pixie-dream-girl waitress, Margaux—cannot resist the urge to attempt to murder the protagonist, using whatever is at hand. Not long after his attack by laptop, a passing co-worker stabs Vincent in the wrist multiple times. And his boss, the fellow with the Buñuelian dream of antlers and mother, thinks it best Vincent spend some time away from the office. You know, to help morale. (Everyone’s been a bit tense.)

And the world has gotten tense. As we join Vincent during his internet delvings and late night drives through the French countryside, more and more plot snippets flesh out a growing problem. Castang explores fury and abandon, uncomfortably drawing our attention to a world becoming more and more unhinged. An understated absurdist comedy morphs increasingly into a febrile survival horror, spiked with the requisite French sex and deadpan. I laughed, I gasped, and I began eyeing a malfunctioning automatic door by the movie screen with more apprehension than logic should allow. But logic went out the door, as fear stole its way through the stunned crowd.


“While Vincent Must Die is first and foremost a horror, it is also a mystery, sometimes a thriller, occasionally dramatic, and absurdly comedic.” – Eamon Tracy, Irish Film Critic (contemporaneous)

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