Day 7: I Sell the Dead (2008)


Don’t ask me how I found the film I Sell the Dead. Maybe my Ron Perlman indicator script went off, thus adding all of his films to my queue. Or, I could have been on grave robbing movie kick after I read the book Stiff. All I know is that it popped up in my queue and somehow made its way to the top. That leads me to today’s review.


I Sell the Dead stars Dominic Monaghan as Arthur, an 18th Century grave robber awaiting execution for his crimes. Ron Perlman costars as a priest who encourages Arthur to confess. As he recounts his past, Arthur explains that he not only had encounters with the dead, but the undead as well. He and his partner also had run-ins with a rival grave robbing gang with even more unscrupulous ethics. Thus, I have explained the entire film in four sentences.


Although not much happened in it, I was surprised to find how much I enjoyed the film. The sets are minimal, and at times it feels more like a stage play than a film. In most cases, this would annoy me and make the film fall flat. However, the acting was strong enough to pull this off. Both Monaghan and Perlman give convincing and entertaining performances; surrounded by a small, but well-rounded supporting cast.


At times, the plot is absurd—with the undead ranging from vampires to zombies (I think?) to an alien corpse that somehow makes its way into 18th Century England. Several times during the movie, the scene freezes and fades into a graphic novel-like still. While this is visually cool, I am not sure what purpose it serves. Also, the filmmakers employ a plot twist Ray Charles would have seen coming. Come on, really? Just because you make an independent film, doesn’t mean you have to fall prey to the same plot devices (most notably the “surprise” at the end). Eh, oh well.


Overall, it was a decent film. I am not sure what audience it is aimed for, however, as it seems to be somewhat of a mash-up of genres and styles. Would I highly recommend this film? I am not sure. While enjoyable, it seemed a bit light on content. I liked the movie, but I would feel bad telling someone else to watch it when I can’t even really explain what the film is about. So, watch the film if you like the lead actors, have a vague interest in 18th Century grave robbing of aliens and zombies (?), or if your TV is stuck on the IFC channel and you can’t find the remote.


Score: B-

Netflix Queue: 479

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