Tuesday, August 3, 2010

I Sell The Dead - 3/5

With the praise this little independent dark comedy was receiving, it didn't seem too far fetched that "I Sell The Dead" would end up in my viewing queue eventually. Although not quite the uproarious dark comedy I was expecting, "I Sell The Dead" does have a knack for charm and unique vision that makes it worth at least a few watches. Perhaps not quite what I was expecting, the film does have its moments and succeeds in some of the most unusual ways.

Arthur Blake (Monaghan) definitely got himself into some trouble. He's in prison falsely accused of murder and his best friend/mentor Willie Grimes (Fessenden) has already been beheaded. In this odd old time (an odd made up time in Ireland around the 19th Century), a priest comes to hear Blake's sins for all the graves that they robbed. Blake reminisces about the events that lead up to the so called murder on the island and tells the priest about all the horrific things he has seen including vampires, aliens, and even zombies. Blake has to talk his way out of this jam quickly though as the guillotine's blade only seems to be getting closer.

It's hard not to be charmed by the odd combination of dry humor, legit scares, and clever story telling that makes "I Sell The Dead" the film that has earned so much praise. With a unique combination of animated comic style moments, insanely dark and dry humorous dialogue, and Horror throwbacks to the grave robbing days of old, this film does some unusual things with its time on screen. At many times I was reminded of Monty Python and their random yet intelligent sketch work with this film, but it does carry a streak of Horror film fetish that will make genre fans clap a little. This combination is definitely unique.

The problem with "I Sell The Dead" is that, despite its charm, it rarely finds the right balance of humor and horror that it needed. Much of the humor is so dry that if you aren't in the right mood, it just seems silly rather than actually funny. Much of this has to do with the chemistry between our two leads. Although they have their moments (the vampire sequence for one), I rarely caught the spark that would make them an ingenious comedic pair. I wanted them to almost be a Laurel And Hardy combination of smarts, dumbs, and misguided attempts at working together, but it rarely comes out that way. It just comes off as two bumbling idiots than the comedic duet we needed.

This film does have some great moments though, with a stellar score, some great comic book-y villains, and its rather clever telling of the stories and how it all comes together. The foundations for an amazing film are all there, but many of the details and major strokes just fall out of place and in the end, "I Sell The Dead" comes out rather flat lining on many of the humorous parts.

BONUS PRAISE: Angus Scrimm, the Tall Man from the "Phantasm" films, makes a guest appearance in this film. Enough said. 

Written By Matt Reifschneider

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