(director: Chad Archibald; screenwriters: Jayme Laforest/story by Chad Archibald; cinematographer: Jeff Maher; editor: Mike Gallant; music: Steph Copeland; cast: Aidan Devine (William), Ava Preston (Gloria), Jess Salgueiro (Jackie), Ari Millen (Reggie), Tavaree Daniel-Simms (Bodie); Runtime: 83; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Cody Calahan/Christopher Giroux/Chad Archibald; Black Fawn Films/Shout Studios; 2018-Canada)

“The film falters from lack of character development and a bleak story.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A low-budget, slow-burner, chilling blood-splatter film, directed by Chad Archibald (“Bite”/”The Heretics”), and written by Jayme Laforest. It’s filled with jump scares and of damaged souls trying to survive their tragic lives. The main fault is a major one, as it goes off the rails when it turns to a nonsensical supernatural ghost story.

William (Aidan Devine) is known as the Candy Butcher in the underworld. He lives on an isolated, snowbound farm, in the Canadian sticks. The widower, whose wife died from leukemia, gets paid by gangsters who bring him corpses from the city and he makes the bodies disappear by chopping up their body parts and giving them an acid bath. He has hardly any moral concerns that what he does for a sideline to survive economically is not kosher. William lives a solitary life with his playful but needy 12-year-old daughter Gloria (Ava Preston).

In the opening scene Gloria says in a voiceover “Sometimes it’s hard to tell who’s alive and who’s dead. I think most people are scared of the dead. Not me. I see dead people all the time.” Gloria mentions that she believes in ghosts and that the spirits of the dead haunt the house, while her father doesn’t quite feel their presence in the same way.

One day a loudmouth tough gang drives up from the city, whose psycho leader Reggie (Ari Millen) forces William to do his thing with a dead kid (even if the butcher says he doesn’t chop up kids). There’s also the body of man and a Hispanic baddie teenage girl named Jackie (Jess Salgueiro). It surprisingly turns out she’s alive but wounded, as William patches up the scared girl and nurses her back to health while holding her there against her will. Gloria needing a mother figure, bonds with her.

When Jackie phones her untrustworthy gangster boyfriend (Tavaree Daniel-Simms) to tell him she’s alive and where she’s at, the murderers find out and return with the ratty boyfriend to finish the job.

The film falters from lack of character development and a bleak story. William eventually explains how he got into this line of work and proves in the end he will do anything for his daughter, but all I could see were a lot of dead people being chopped up without any respect for their souls. It makes for a strange and eerie film, a VOD one that didn’t resonate with me because its conclusion was so absurd.

I'll Take Your Dead

REVIEWED ON 2/15/2020  GRADE: C+