Movie Review: “I’ll Take Your Dead” is Haunting, Horrific and RivetingOctober 10, 2018
Toronto After Dark Film Festival 2018
Black Fawn Films has built a nice reputation around their ability to create all different kind of horror environments, particularly the body horror part of the genre. So imagine my surprise when I’ll Take Your Dead went in a whole different direction, something I hadn’t seen from director Chad Archibald and company before, and with a solid story and some great performances, this was a great success.
We meet William (Aidan Divine) and his daughter Gloria (Ava Preston), living a seemingly normal if not mundane life on a farm that you could find just about anywhere. However, there is nothing normal about this family unit. It seems William, who is known as The Butcher, has a little job on the side which happens to be disposing of bodies dropped at his doorstep. His ‘liquid solution’ to make the dead disappear makes his home a popular place for the morally corrupt and not the best of places to be raising a daughter.
The story shifts back and forth from crime thriller to supernatural horror, allowing the audience to enjoy both genres while watching this bizarre relationship and how even in the worst conditions, it actually works. It is interesting to see just how people can normalize or try and justify horrible circumstances and make it ok by wrapping it up in the ‘I’ve got to make ends meet somehow’ argument.
Director Chad Archibald and writer Jayme LaForest quickly set up this interesting story, lets it play out and then dives into the consequences of regularly exposing a child to the horrors of death. The script is smart and moves fast and Archibald does a great job in keeping all the players moving, keeping the story moving as the twists and turns play out. The horrors of real life are indeed something new for Archibald and Black Fawn but the story is put together in a very interesting and different way, leaving the audience guessing what is going to happen next.
Divine and Preston are excellent together, forming a very believable father/daughter relationship even under these horrific and unimaginable circumstances. Preston as Gloria is marvelous, giving a frightening performance as a girl who has seen too much and suffered too much. Also in the mix is Jackie (Jess Salgueiro), a woman thrown into this family unit by accident and Salgueiro makes a great impression here, forging a strange but real bond with Preston.
I had an issue with a couple of things, one being some silly moments during a shootout at the farm and a personal gripe with the movie being a bit too short. At just under eighty minutes, there was more than enough time to delve deeper into these relationships and maybe expand the supernatural horror part of the story as well.
That being said, this was a solid movie and a gutsy move by the talent in Black Fawn Films to move outside their comfort zone and try something new. I’ll Take Your Dead is frighteningly raw and takes a long hard look at human suffering and how that can skewer your perspective on almost everything, including your relationship with the people that you care about above all others.
Four stars out of five
I’ll Take Your Dead is playing at Toronto After Dark Film Festival opening night, Thursday, October 11th, at 9:30 pm at Scotiabank Theater Toronto.