It’s that time of year again. Time to get ready for thrills, chills and scary creatures roaming the night. No, I’m not talking about Halloween. I’m talking about the 13th Annual Toronto After Dark Film Festival, taking place on October 11th to 19th at the Scotiabank Theatre in Toronto. Just like in years previous, Geek Hard will be there to take in all the horror, sci-fi and genre delights. We’ll also be providing reviews and insight into the films playing at the fest. The first of which is playing tonight : I’ll Take Your Dead.
Directed by Chad Archibald, I’ll Take Your Dead is the story of a man and his daughter and the death that surrounds them. William is a simple farmer who has another job on the side: making dead bodies disappear. It’s not a job that he likes but he’s good at it. His farm has become a dumping ground for the local crime lord’s victims. To say his daughter, Gloria, isn’t effected by this would be a lie. But the two have become accustomed to this life as they plan to escape it by moving far away with the money they’re saving up. That is until a woman’s body is dropped at the house and turns out not to be dead. William and Gloria nurse the woman back to health. It isn’t long before the people who wanted her dead come calling and the stink of death rears it’s ugly head on the farm once again.
The simplicity of this film’s plot is key in its execution. The story moves at a fast pace and the motivations of all parties are clear. This gives the viewer time to focus on what’s really important here: The characters. The plot is there to serve the father/daughter dynamic. The two live in an isolated place. No one usually comes to the farm except to make a literal dead drop. So the two have become dependent on each other as that’s all they have. While William is doing a very bad thing, it’s apparent that he’s a good man at heart.
There’s also more to Gloria than meets the eye. She has a connection to the souls of the dead that end up at their door. She can “see” them after they’re dead. It’s an extra layer to her character that explains the eerie vibe she gives off. For most of the film, it’s presented in a way that you can’t be sure if she really has this connection or if it’s all in her head. Gloria is a compelling character made more so by a strong performance from Ava Preston.
While some of the dialogue in I’ll Take Your Dead is a bit uninspired, the cast makes up for it. Ava Preston shines as Gloria, presenting a kid with a strong will and quirky likability. She plays great off both Aiden Devine as William and Jess Salgueiro as Jackie a.k.a. the not-dead woman. Salgueiro also has a great showing, made all the more impressive as she’s stuck in a bed for most of the film. Another standout in the cast is Ari Millen as gangbanger Reggie. Ari plays a slimy piece-of-shit to a tee. While he does not have a lot of screen time, he makes the most of it. Reggie is a pending threat for most of the film and you can feel his presence even when he’s not onscreen.
Overall, the film is a lot of fun. While I wasn’t happy with the handling of the supernatural elements in the third act, the performances and pacing of the film more then make up for it. There is a mounting tension that plays out just right and the family dynamic will keep viewerS invested throughout. You can catch I’ll Take Your Dead tonight at the opening of night of Toronto After Dark 2018 at 9:30PM at the Scotiabank Theatre. Get your tickets HERE! And keep checking back for more coverage of TADFF18!
If you’re gonna geek out, GEEK HARD!