I'll Take Your Dead Blu-ray Review
Written by Robert Gold
Blu-ray released by Scream Factory
Directed by Chad Archibald
Written by Jayme Laforest
2018, 86 minutes, Not Rated
Released on June 4th, 2019
Aidan Devine as William the Butcher
Ava Preston as Gloria
Jess Salgueiro as Jackie
Ari Millen as Reggie
Brandon McKnight as Carter
Michael Reventar as Diaz
William lives with his twelve-year-old daughter Gloria in an isolated farmhouse far from town. Through circumstances outside his control, he has become the go-to guy for body disposal for various criminal elements within the city. Known as “The Candy Butcher”, William has a way of making corpses disappear. Gloria is used to seeing rough-looking men dropping off cadavers and is even convinced that some of them are haunting their home. After a woman’s body is dumped at the house, William begins his work only to discover she is still alive. He cleans her up and holds her against her will until he can figure out what to do. Just as they begin to understand each other, the woman’s would-be murderers get word that she’s alive and return to finish the job.
I’ll Take Your Dead is a macabre tale of love and understanding as a father tries to raise his daughter in an environment surrounded by death. Their situation is unique, but he appears to be doing a fine job, as Gloria is well-rounded and good natured. She forms a bond with Jackie, the captive woman, likely the first female in the house since her mother died a few years ago. William is a kind man with a menacing reputation, but is saving up to give Gloria a better life far from this snowy landscape. The three inhabitants form an uneasy bond and Jackie is gradually given more freedom before trouble returns and threatens to ruin everything.
This is a slow-burn character drama that is thoughtful and engaging as it builds to its explosive finale. The story works on its own as a traditional narrative grounded in reality without the supernatural elements. The ghosts are an active presence but don’t contribute anything to the tale until the final act when they take on the role of deus ex machina. I can understand why Gloria sees them, but how others unaffiliated with the house come to interact with the spirits remains a mystery. Honestly, I would prefer the script dispel with the ghosts entirely, as they are a distraction from what is important.
Directed by Chad Archibald (The Drownsman, Bite), this picture is filled with gorgeous imagery (courtesy of cinematographer Jeff Maher) and strong performances from the primary cast. Working from a script by Jayme Laforest (The Heretics), Archibald has created something special with his deliberately-paced tale that plays with the family dynamic and themes of isolation and right versus wrong. William is a good man doing bad things for a good reason. Aiden Devine (WolfCop) stars as the complicated man at the center of this story. His performance is quiet and reserved and he carries the picture with ease. Ava Preston (Odd Squad) steals the movie as Gloria, the young girl coming of age in a house of death. She and Devine share many scenes together and their chemistry is strong. As Jackie, the captive woman, Jess Salgueiro (Mary Goes Round) brings energy to the story that challenges the father-daughter dynamic and keeps audiences invested in her survival.
I’ll Take Your Dead is not a flashy movie, nor is it very fast-paced. The third act picks up considerably once the bad guys show up and Archibald knows how to shoot an action scene. That being said, the script is not without its issues, mainly the forced supernatural element that kept pushing me away. I have followed this director’s work for several films now and while this is not his strongest effort, it is still respectable. I look forward to his next production, as he is clearly capable of telling a good story even if he does occasionally go off the rails.
Video and Audio:
The film arrives in the 2.35:1 aspect ratio and the composition fills the frame nicely. Colors are a bit muted and black levels are rich with plenty of small-object detail and natural flesh tones throughout.
A DTS-HD MA 5.1 and a DTS-HD MA 2.0 stereo mix are your options and as usual I default to the expanded 5.1 mix. For the most part this is a dialogue-heavy film with some action thrown in at the end. Music cues are lively and well-balanced with sound effects.
Optional English subtitles are included for anyone in need.
A behind-the-scenes featurette (9 minutes) provides a look at life on the set during the wintery production. The director and producer lay out some of the intricacies of shooting a picture and some of the daily challenges that arise. Cast members reflect on the script and working with the director and in some cases doing stunts. This is a tightly edited piece worth checking out.
A collection of deleted scenes (11 minutes) offers a look at material cut for pacing. There is an elaborate sequence involving Jackie getting free and what happens after, but the film works without it.
The script-to-screen comparison (4 minutes) splits the screen between the opening scene playing above while pages of the original screenplay scroll down below.
Two theatrical trailers have been included.
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