‘Sometimes it’s hard to tell who’s alive and who’s dead.’
On a remote farm, grieving, meticulous widower William (Aidan Devine) – the sort of character Ingmar Bergman might have created if he were born Canadian – raises his bright, lonely daughter Gloria (Ava Preston). Given the desolate landscape and bitter cold, it’s no surprise that he’s chosen to augment his agri-income with a criminal practice – but, rather than growing weed or cooking meth, the so-called ‘Candy Butcher’ disposes of corpses (no questions asked) with dissecting saws and an acid bath. After an alley ambush, a krewe of jittery bangers – Reggie (Ari Millen) is the most obvious loose cannon in the bunch – drop off three freshly-shot-full-of-holes bodies at the farm … but Jackie (Jess Salgueiro) turns out to be not dead, giving the conscientious William a thorny problem and the chatty Gloria a living friend. One predictable twist, involving Jackie’s absent boyfriend, ensures that any idyll established by the odd trio is foredoomed … but Gloria’s interactions with the spectres of the Candy Butcher’s previous customers leads the story off to a third act that’s perfectly set up by what has come before but still marks a major, exhilarating mood shift along with an escalation from slow-burn character noir to all-out horror.
Director Chad Archibald also provided the story, with Jayme Laforest getting the script credit. Archibald has been busily directing, writing and producing a raft of horror movies in Canada under the Black Fawn banner for fifteen years – he has varied credits on The Drownsman, Bite, Ejecta, The Heretics, Antisocial, Septic Man, Bed of the Dead, The Sublet, and Let Her Out, which constitutes an interesting and ambitious body of work. It’s possible I’ll Take Your Dead is the film which will really put Black Fawn on the genre map. It has a high concept, great character writing/acting (young Preston – also in Critters Attack! – is outstanding), a satisfying storyline, a lot of imaginative visuals, moments of gore (when it turns into a siege movie, you know that acid bath will come in handy), very black humour, horrific apparitions, an assured build-up of suspense with powerful shock payoffs, and a real depth of feeling.