24th Aug2019

Frightfest 2019: ‘I’ll Take Your Dead’ Review

by Chris Cummings

Stars: Aidan Devine, Ava Preston, Jess Salgueiro, Ari Millen, Brandon McKnight, Michael Reventar, Moe Jeudy-Lamour | Written by Jayme Laforest, Chad Archibald | Directed by Chad Archibald


Directed and written by Chad Archibald (Bite) and co-written by Jayme Laforest (The Heretics, Bite), I’ll Take Your Dead see’s us follow a guy named William who disposes of dead bodies on his farm, bodies that were victims of gang related murder in the city. When a woman’s body is dropped off by one of these seedy looking gang-bangers for William to get rid of, he soon realises that the woman isn’t actually dead, and decides to help her and keep her against her will, until he can fathom what his next step should be. The situation gets worse for William when the attempted murderers of the woman find out that she’s still alive, and try to put her out for good.

Conceptually I was immediately on board with this film, I loved the written synopsis I read prior to pressing play. A combination of crime, drama and horror, it lays back on its characters, specifically William, played by Aidan Devine (A History of Violence), his young daughter Gloria, played by Ava Preston (Shazam), and Jackie, played by Jess Salgueiro (The Boys). Devine and Preston are really the heart of the film, delivering top notch performances as well as providing a chemistry on-screen that helps the film move forward steadily and helps us to understand the motivations of William himself and why he’s doing what he’s doing. There are almost two sides to William as a character, on one hand he’s a loving and protective Dad, and on the other hand, a man who is forced to cut himself off from his feelings in order to do a job he is reluctantly pushed into doing. There are dark elements to his character that really stand out at the side of his more kind and caring traits, and it feels unnatural and obscure at times, really bringing in an intriguing element to the film, and giving us a character played with real conviction and depth.

There’s a haunting aspect to the movie, with Gloria often feeling like the house is being terrorised by the spirits of the bodies that the gangsters and low-lifes are dropping on the doorstep. This is kinda where the true “horror” side of I’ll Take Your Dead finds itself, and it stops there, but there is certainly an unnerving, intense and creepy atmosphere throughout, with the job William is doing, the gore that comes along with some of the scenes, and the sequences of Gloria seeing, well… dead people.

The film is driven by its relationship between father and daughter, the drama of the situation, and the way William struggles with his circumstances. Yes, there are horror film tropes to be found here, but I felt more like I was watching a character study of a movie most of the time, a film that delved into the psyche of its main characters in a dark and blackened manner. The bleakness of the cinematography from Jeff Maher (Let Her Out) really helps to capture the tone of the film even further. Its dark, gritty and sepia tones creating something of a claustrophobic mood that, along with the plot and the subtle yet nuanced performances, pushes the film to a higher level. I didn’t expect that. I was glad to experience it. I did find the first half of the film to be very low-key and slow, a tone that swells in time, but I personally don’t mind that. The quiet moments work, and the louder and more intense ones are frequent enough to keep you immersed in the world, or the house, that Archibald places us in.

The use of the supernatural is done well, and it gets bigger and more potent as the film goes on, just as the tension and intrigue does. I was really impressed with the visual way they delivered the ghostly parts of the movie. It didn’t feel cheap, or awkward, or unfitting. Overall, across the board, from the acting, to the story, to the writing, the music, the cinematography and the effects, I’ll Take Your Dead delivers.

Salgueiro is solid as Jackie, a woman who finds herself in a strange place, in pain, afraid and desperate, trying her best to fathom what’s happening to her, while trying to find a way out of where she is. It’s a strong performance, just like those of Preston and Devine, as Gloria and William. The three of them carry the entire movie, and the various scenes between the three are often emotional, sometimes creepy, and once-in-a-while, even a little on the funny side. A man disposing of dead bodies, a young girl haunted by her father’s profession yet almost used to it to a frightening degree, and a woman stuck in a creepy house against her will, it’s an evocative and macabre film, delightful to look at and listen to, with sturdy and impassioned performances from it’s mostly three-body cast. This is a bloody good film, and one I had a great time with.

**** 4/5

I’ll Take Your Dead screened at Arrow Video Frightfest on Saturday August 24th 2019.


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