Vincent Must Die
Director: Stéphan Castang
Starring: Karim Leklou, Vimala Pons, Karoline Rose Sun, Michael Perez
Vincent just needs to die. Why? Well, he just does! In Stéphan Castang’s latest film, an unwitting and unremarkable man finds himself the target of public fury and rage simply for existing, it would seem. It’s a fun premise that offered plenty of potential for either a straight-up horror or a more comedic take on the genre. For Vincent Must Die, Castang doesn’t really opt for either of them, instead aiming for a more satirical look at social angst and our perceived desensitization to violence whilst sprinkling in horror and dramatic elements. The problem is, the film becomes rather unfocused due to it, and, sadly begins to overstay its welcome two-thirds of the way through.
"The clear social commentary felt surface-level and largely unsatisfying in its execution - it’s there for all to see yet still it feels undefined and unexplored."
The film starts strong as we meet Vincent (Leklou) at his day job, a designing job that he tolerates at best, and, after a team meeting, he finds himself unexpectedly assaulted by the young intern. Whilst he attempts to brush this off, another brutal assault in the workplace follows and Vincent begins to suspect that all really is not as it should be. The mystery that is conjured in these initial blasts is highly intriguing and compelling - just what is causing these people to attack Vincent out of the blue? - and it also paves the way for some dark comedy to arise from the absurdity of the situation (his employer's HR team seems nonplussed at best by the events).
Frustratingly, Vincent Must Die really begins to run out of steam at the midway point as our titular character decides to flee the suburbs for the rural countryside leaving the viewer to endure a character study of someone who really isn’t all that interesting. The joy of the story came from the everyman being at the centre of the storm, looking deeper than that really didn’t provide the drama that Castang was clearly aiming for. That’s no slight on him or Leklou, who portrays a bumbling scoop of vanilla ice cream with alarming aplomb, but the quiet moments with the character did not resonate at all nor did the far-fetched romance angle that was thrust into the mix. Additionally, the clear social commentary felt surface-level and largely unsatisfying in its execution - it’s there for all to see yet still it feels undefined and unexplored.
The violence throughout is well-presented (which seems a strange thing to say) and Castang shows a deft hand at delivering touches of horror throughout, the frustrations come from the inconsistency of the story and jarring shift in tone and pace around the halfway point. What could - and maybe should - have been an absolute blast instead ended up being disappointingly unremarkable. Not bad, just not great.
July 22nd 2023