I’ll Take Your Dead Blu-ray Review


Ghostly Crime Thriller

Chad Archibald’s I’ll Take Your Dead is a surprisingly effective ghost story about a father’s relationship with his 12-year-old daughter and how his criminal career begins to endanger her. There is a gritty edge and real humanity that sets the spooky thriller apart from your run-of-the-mill spook flick. The Canadian film’s macabre atmosphere and haunting ghost action produce visceral storytelling with plenty of frights. Aided by a superb set of performances and tight direction, this is compelling filmmaking worth your time.

Like Haley Joel Osment, the daughter can see dead people all around her – but this is no Sixth Sense. A man known as the Candy Butcher lives alone with his daughter in the country, disposing of dead bodies in his basement for gangs from the nearby city. Trying to live by a simple moral code, what happens when one of those bodies isn’t actually dead?

William (Aidan Devine) lives out on a rural farm, alone with his young daughter Gloria (Ava Preston). They are a tight-knit family despite what William does for a living. He takes care of the dead bodies delivered to him, all the while caring for his precocious daughter. She’s aware her father isn’t working with angels and that what he does is wrong, but loves him anyway.

…never better than in its spooky set pieces with creepy visuals and pitch-perfect tone

Known as the Candy Butcher to the criminals that use his services, all William wants is to save enough money for retirement in El Paso, Texas. He wants to escape from this life of crime and give his daughter a safer future. He’s a basically decent man that just happens to work an unsavory job for money.

What William doesn’t know, or want to believe, is that Gloria can see ghosts. She’s often accosted by the ghosts of victims roaming their isolated home, right down to a creepy burning spectre in the basement. The plucky young girl may just be hitting puberty but she’s wise beyond her years, dealing with spirits out of her control. I’ll Take Your Dead is never better than in its spooky set pieces with creepy visuals and pitch-perfect tone. The viscerally frightening scenes managed to work on this jaded horror fan.

Everything in the movie works as it becomes more than a simple ghost story. The ghosts are more of a side plot to the main action, which is the compelling criminal drama that threatens William’s simple life and his daughter’s safety. When gang members drop off a few bodies for William, he later discovers one has survived, Jackie (Jess Salgueiro). Her survival throws his whole operation into jeopardy and he knows it.

I’ll Take Your Dead is finely-crafted filmmaking that goes outside the horror genre when needed for emotional resonance and believable character development. Superbly written and directed with strong performances by the cast, it’s one of last year’s most unheralded successes.

Video

It’s hard finding the exact camera used for the indie I’ll Take Your Dead, but some information indicates the popular RED. It doesn’t really matter because cinematographer Jeff Maher has produced an imposing and starkly elegant horror aesthetic. There is a strong mise-en-scène that doesn’t call attention to itself but becomes a vital part of the movie. It’s a fine production overall that deserved a Blu-ray release, which you can’t always say in indie horror.

This is impressive scope cinematography that both serves the movie and looks great on Blu-ray. The movie’s clarity and definition are excellent. Sharp and clear with real definition, this is a good-looking production. Impressive detail, no obvious contrast issues and consistent flesh-tones are also present. The superior shadow delineation and a darker palette without any obnoxious tints are a true rarity these days in horror on a budget.

Scream Factory’s presentation is technically flawless in terms of transfer and encode. The 85-minute main feature is smoothly encoded in high-bitrate AVC on a BD-50.

Audio

Two excellent audio options are included for I’ll Take Your Dead. The 5.1 DTS-HD MA soundtrack is perfect for the movie’s spooky atmosphere. A moody score complements the discrete sound design, especially when ghosts appear.

Channel separation and effective bass help create an immersive experience that grabs you and won’t let go. A secondary 2.0 DTS-HD MA option lacks the surround moments but matches it in fidelity and clarity.

Optional English SDH subtitles play in a white font, always within the video’s 2.35:1 presentation.

Extras

Scream Factory’s Blu-ray release includes a slipcover and reversible cover art. The Blu-ray is coded for Region A.

The indie movie doesn’t come loaded with special features but we get a glimpse behind the scenes with a making-of featurette and high-quality deleted scenes.

I’ll Take Your Dead: Behind The Scenes Featurette (08:58 in HD) – Footage from the set and production is bolstered by interviews with the main cast and director, including child actress Ava Preston. It’s a solid look behind the scenes that includes the cinematographer and producers.

Deleted Scenes (11:06 in HD) – Six finished scenes of various lengths that could have easily made the final cut. One scene involves the burning ghost which runs long but would have made for an interesting addition. There’s another long scene involving Jackie which would have fleshed out her character at the expense of the plot.

Script-To-Screen Comparison (04:23 in HD) – One of the earliest scenes when Reggie meets William and Gloria plays as the screenplay scrolls along at the bottom.

I’ll Take Your Dead Trailers (03:31 in HD) – Two separate trailers for the movie.

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

I'll Take Your Dead
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras
5

Summary

A taut, compelling crime movie with excellent frights and convincing, likable characters.

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User Review
4 (1 vote)

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