Runtime: 10 minutes
Director/Writer: Sophie B. Jacques
Actors: Sophie B Jacques, Jason Roy-Leveillee, Marianne Farley, Marc-Andre Doucet-Beauchamp
By Caelyn O’Reilly
“Cimetière” is a comfortingly Halloweeny short from French-Canadian writer/director (and in this case, actor) Sophie B Jacques. It follows two people sneaking into a graveyard before beginning a probing conversation about life and death that gets very personal.
I love the film’s pumpkin-flavoured meet cute premise. The characters relax in a misty cemetery at night, surrounded by the warm, orange glow of lit candles. It’s basically the October equivalent of sitting around a roaring fireplace with mugs of hot cocoa. It elicits the same feeling as reading a ‘Goosebumps’ book in bed as a kid.
The narrative starts interestingly enough with the conversation about death, the dry, natural tone of the dialogue and performances really helping to sell the slight awkwardness of the pair. Unfortunately, the story takes a turn that is disappointingly rote and predictable.
Turns out, she was dead the whole time (insert spooky music sting here).
This is the most overdone idea the film could have possibly gone with. But at first it seems like Jacques is going to do something interesting with it, initially keeping the dialogue in its original matter-of-fact conversational tone. There’s a dark humour to her dryly telling this guy “I’m dead”. But unfortunately, “Cimetière” just can’t quite stick the landing and does end up trying to treat the situation as a big dramatic twist. Especially with the inclusion of a bizarre jumpscare plague doctor wandering around who represents… death? Maybe? The film gives up the humourous angle but fails to replace it with anything interesting or sufficiently developed for even this brief runtime. In the end, it somehow feels too slight for a sub-10 minute short film. It’s more like a two-sentence horror story you’d find on Reddit.
It needed to either ditch the dramatic angle or pay it off. As is, the piece feels incomplete, like a scene ripped from larger context.
Its charming aesthetic helps “Cimetière” not feel like a waste of time but the film overall is something you’d watch to set a spooky mood and then immediately forget. But I will end on a compliment. There’s a brief moment early on where the guy pulls a disposable face mask out of his bag and the dead woman’s immediate response is “Are you a doctor?”. If this film was shot after the pandemic began (which I don’t have any reason to believe isn’t the case), then that’s a brilliantly subtle allusion to the upcoming twist. Props to that.