Review: I’ll Take Your Dead doesn’t need to see dead people to hook us

Guelph director Chad Archibald's mash-up of crime thriller, father-daughter drama and kitchen-sink horror is powered by a strong cast and a simple domestic setup


I’LL TAKE YOUR DEAD (Chad Archibald). 86 minutes. Opens Friday (July 5). See listings. Rating: NNN


The latest from Guelph-based genre filmmaker Chad Archibald, I’ll Take Your Dead is an unwieldy but engaging jumble of hard-boiled crime picture, thoughtful father-daughter drama and kitchen-sink horror. The twist is that, while Archibald tends to deliver big, effects-heavy material like Bite and The Heretics, the horror elements are the least interesting thing about it.

The film is set in a wintry nowheresville where a widower (Aidan Devine) lives with his tween daughter (Ava Preston). He spends his days disposing of corpses for the mobsters who bring them up from the city once they’re gone, she’s haunted by their spirits.

It’s a strange existence but a peaceful one, until they receive a woman (Jess Salgueiro) who isn’t actually dead the pair nurse her back to health and even start to like her, even though they know keeping her around will lead to a reckoning with the thugs who dropped her off.

Powered by a stronger cast than he’s usually able to wrangle – all three leads are have dozens of TV and film credits, and Orphan Black’s Ari Millen turns up as a wild-eyed baddie – I’ll Take Your Dead is a much more character-driven piece for Archibald and screenwriter Jayme Laforest, whose previous collaborations were much more interested in gruesome transformations than in the people being transformed.

This one’s at its best when it’s just watching its characters figure each other out in their domestic isolation, and slowly bonding in the face of a common threat. The ghost stuff’s just a distraction, really.

@normwilner

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