I SELL THE DEAD Review (LA Film Fest)
I am not a horror fan at all, but interestingly enough, I Sell the Dead was one of the movies that I wanted to see the most at the LA Film Fest.
I Sell the Dead follows the story of Arthur Blake (Dominic Monaghan) and Willie Grimes (Larry Fessenden), two grave robbers, who one day discover a body with a stake through its heart. Now unfortunately, Willie and Arthur have not been educated by pop culture and don’t know that if you find a body with a stake in it, you just never remove it… This new “adventure” leads them to become dealers for the undead, in this very original and funny horror/comedy movie.
I Sell the Dead opens with Arthur confessing his “crimes” to a priest, Father Duffy (Ron Perlman). We then go back and forth between the story and the present in the prison. We learn about what lead Arthur to this point and all the crazy adventures he and Willie went on, as well as all the creatures they encountered along the way.
As I said, I’m not a horror fan, but what I loved about I Sell the Dead is that it wasn’t the typical horror movie. Not only does it have elements of comedy, it also gives homage to a lot of the vintage horror films, for example the movie uses a lot of fog. So really, I wouldn’t call it a horror film per se, it’s more of a comedy/horror film, and I definitely like that.
Another thing that I think the director, Glenn McQuaid, was able to achieve with I Sell the Dead, is to make his two main characters very likable. Granted they are very naive, but they are not dumb, and that is a very important distinction. Furthermore, while the movie does use a lot of cliches, they are not hammering you with them. Even better, the reason why I Sell the Dead works is because these cliches are seen through the characters’ eyes, who themselves are experiencing them for the first time. So something like a body with a stake in the heart turns out to be quite an experience for them (and by extent for the audience) and that is why it’s fun to watch.
Of course the movie wouldn’t work if it wasn’t for the great acting abilities of the cast. Dominic Monaghan and Larry Fessenden make quite a team, and they really work well together as the master and his apprentice, who eventually become business partners in a very weird line of work. And then you have Ron Perlman, who even though doesn’t take part in the main adventures, definitely makes a great impression as the priest coming to hear the last confessions of a man on death row.
Overall, my instincts were right, I Sell the Dead was definitely one of the great movies at the LA Film Festival, and I enjoyed myself from beginning to end. I think fans of horror will definitely appreciate what Glenn McQuaid created, and I think that even people that are not usually drawn to the horror genre might find themselves pleasantly surprised.
And if you want to see I Sell the Dead for yourself, it will be released to limited theaters on August 14 and I think that I should be available on IFC on Demand shortly after that.
Title: I Sell the Dead
Director: Glenn McQuaid
Cast: Dominic Monaghan, Larry Fessenden, Angus Scrimm, Ron Perlman, John Speredakos, Brenda Cooney, Eileen Colgan, Daniel Manche, Joel Garland.
Synopsis: The harrowing tale of Arthur Blake and Willie Grimes, two bumbling grave robbers embroiled in a series of adventures with the dead and not so dead, is told by Blake to a strange priest on the eve of his execution.
Release Date: August 14, 2009 (Limited)