VOD film review: I’ll Take Your Dead
Matthew Turner | On 29, Oct 2019
Director: Chad Archibald
Cast: Aidan Devine, Ava Preston, Jess Salgueiro, Brandon McKnight, Ari Millen, Michael Reventar, Moe Jeudy-Lamour
Watch I’ll Take Your Dead online in the UK: Apple TV (iTunes) / Prime Video (Buy/Rent)
Co-written and directed by Chad Archibald (Bite, The Heretics), this low-budget Canadian thriller effortlessly blends a number of different genres to extremely satisfying effect. In fact, it’s something of a treat for genre fans and marks out Archibald as a talent to watch.
The film begins as a small-town noir story. Living in a remote farmhouse, widowed father William (Aidan Devine) has a lucrative sideline making dead bodies disappear for local gangs, to whom he is known as “The Candy Butcher”. This would be fine, if his 12-year-old daughter Gloria (Ava Preston) hadn’t started to see dead people, i.e. the ghosts of the corpses her father disposes of with his hacksaws and acid baths.
However, when jittery gangbanger Reggie (Ari Millen) drops off his latest load of gunshot victims, there’s a small complication in that one of them – Jess Salgueiro’s Jackie – isn’t dead. Unsure of what to do, William takes her prisoner, knowing that if the gang find out they’ll come back to finish the job. Meanwhile, Gloria begins to bond with Jackie, and unwittingly sets in motion a chain of violent events.
I’ll Take Your Dead would work perfectly well if it were just a stripped down noir movie, but the addition of horror, home invasion, coming-of-age and family drama elements turn it into something refreshingly original. Archibald maintains tight control of the film’s tone, so that all these things seamlessly flow together. There’s even room for a dash of black humour.
The script (co-written with Jayme Laforest) is extremely satisfying, creating a trio of compelling, likeable characters that you really care about, especially since Gloria announces in an opening voiceover that the story isn’t necessarily going to have a happy ending. The script’s carefully cultivated emotional investment in each character ensures that the thrilling final act is fraught with tension, alongside effective moments of violence, shock and gore (that acid bath doesn’t go to waste).
The film is further elevated by a trio of terrific performances, particularly from Preston (Critters Attack!), who’s simply sensational as Gloria and will surely go on to bigger things. Devine is equally good as her father, convincing when fronting up to the bad guys as well as when taking care of Gloria – the scene where he explains to Jackie how he became “The Candy Butcher” is surprisingly touching.
On top of that, Salgueiro is superb as Jackie, generating intriguing chemistry with both Preston and Devine. There’s also strong work from Millen as the chief bad guy and colourful support from Michael Revantar and Brandon McKnight as his fellow gang members.
Archibald successfully orchestrates a number of different genre staples, from jump scares to suspense sequences to gore moments and explosions of violence. Indeed, there’s only one real misstep – a moment of gratuitous nudity that doesn’t really fit the tone of the rest of the film. That stumble aside, this is a cracking little genre picture that satisfies on a number of different levels and is well worth seeking out.