08 June 2011

Movies: I Sell the Dead

I Sell the Dead (2008) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0902290/

Supernatural Horror Comedy about an imprisoned 18th century grave robber, accused not only of his ghoulish profession but of murder, and his confessions of some grave-robbing anecdotes to a priest before the robber is due to be executed for his crimes.

Stars Dominic Monaghan (Lost's Charlie, or Lord of the Rings's Merry Brandybuck if you prefer) as Arthur the grave robber, Ron Pearlman as the priest Father Duffy, and a few others I don't recognize.

The film starts off with us watching Arthur's partner Willie being decapitated for the same crimes Arthur is accused of. Then Fr. Duffy walks in to prison and starts talking with Arthur about his past. We learn that as a child Arthur apprentices with Willie to earn some cash for his family.  They dig up corpses for a local physician that needs them for dissection.
The film is pretty much the flashback portrayals of Arthur's anecdotes about growing up in the business, starting as a lad and on into adulthood, with returns to the prison cell between each story.

The first scene, Willie's decapitation, was so full of scenery-chewing goodness I was really worried about the film. But then it settled into the tongue-in-cheekiness feel established by that opening scene.  Yes it is played up and exaggerated comedy, but just shy of overtly so. Once I settled into the film's 'feel' it wasn't so bad.
The musical scoring of the film got intrusive at times with it's whimsical comedy carnival sound before blessedly retreating  into the background. Yeah, it was noticeably annoying at times, but other times not so much so.
The plot isn't extensive nor thought-provoking. Clearly for sit-back entertainment of varyingly effective farcical scenes.  The first time paranormal horror is introduced into the story Arthur and Willie dig up a corpse that has a garland of garlic around its neck and a wooden stake embedded in the chest.  They toss the garlic, pull out the stake and turn around to prepare to cart off the corpse. The corpse rises and walks off, scaring the crap out of the two grave robbers. Then the corpse comes back and attacks them.  It is a silly but funny physical comedy scene and lets the viewers know they're in for some grave robbing stories occasionally sprinkled with various paranormal corpses.

The film's conclusion is kind of coincidental and wonky but stays within the film's spirit and plot.

There are a couple of laugh-out-loud, or at least hearty guffaw, moments, others not so much.  Not quite enough laughs chained throughout the whole film.  So I guess it would rank more as an amusing comedy and funny enough to not be terrible.  Probably makes a decent enough Saturday nothing-else-to-do film.

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