I’LL TAKE YOUR DEAD – directed by Chad Archibald – SPOILERS
William (Aidan Devine), who lives on a farm with his daughter Gloria (Ava Preston), has been pressed into service by warring gangs from a nearby city for the purpose of disposing of their dead. (He chops up the bodies and dissolves them in an acid bath.) Though his residence is rural, William has become an urban legend. “The Candy Butcher” they call him. Many believe him to be a cannibal, but this is apparently not true.
The family’s last name is Derrow, though it is never mentioned in the film. There is a very old sign outside the farmhouse with a picture of a cow on it that reads “Derrow Family Butcher”.
One snowy February morning, three new corpses arrive. (We get to see the cell phone of one of the unfortunates just before she is shot, and it is twenty minutes after twelve on February 1st.) William is reluctant to accept the job, but his daughter answered the door (she wasn’t supposed to) and threats are made against her. The corpses are left in his driveway, and William and Gloria drag them inside. Reggie (Ari Millen), one of the guys who drops off the corpses, says, (in an attempt to frighten one of his associates): “You know why they call him The Candy Butcher? Because to him, blood is sweet. The son of a bitch has been bathing in it for years.”
As William is about to hack the third victim, whose name we will shortly find out is Jackie, into bits small enough to fit in the acid bath, she wakes up looking dazed and confused. William sedates her immediately. (He has a syringe handy with a sedative in it, and one wonders why that would be, and if such an event might have happened to him before.) The next day, Jackie (Jess Salgueiro) wakes up tied to a bed, her wounds patched up, dressed in the clothes of William’s deceased wife.
Jackie struggles so much against the ropes that she tears out her stitches and almost dies, but William intervenes again and transfuses her with his own blood (O negative). Jackie again recovers. (Shortly before she is shot, we see Jackie smoking a cigarette. In her entire time at the farm, she never asks for a smoke. Her pointless struggles against the restraints might have been caused by nicotine withdrawal.)
It’s probably just an interesting co-incidence, but Jackie was shot at about 12:20am, and Twelve Twenty is also the title of a short film by Pen-Ek Ratanaruang that was based on “Sleeping Beauty and the Airplane“, a short story by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. The story of William and Jackie, while not exactly the same, is quite similar.
Gloria sees dead people wandering around the house. No one else can see them. They do not seem threatening.
William has an exit plan. He is paid well for his disposals, and keeps the money in cash in a jar in a kitchen cupboard, along with an ad for a house in El Paso, the asking price for which is $100,000. This latest job gives them enough money for that house. On the day she and her father are planning to leave for Texas, Gloria insists that Jackie have breakfast with them.
This exchange happens just before the people who arranged Jackie’s death show up in an attempt to finish what they started:
JACKIE: “So, Gloria, what do you want to be when you grow up?”
GLORIA: “I’m not sure yet. At first I thought I wanted to be a doctor, to help people, you know. Then I was thinking I could maybe do what my dad does.” [awkward pause when no one knows how to react to that] “Oh, not that part. Just the raising farm animals part. But it would just be a milk farm. No more death.”
One doesn’t quite believe her. The milk farm idea might be more convincing if she hadn’t just poured milk on her cereal. That makes it seem like an improvised save.
Gloria cuts up her stuffed animals like her dad cuts up corpses, and then sews them back together. Maybe she does this to practice being a doctor someday, but coupled with her ability to see dead people it makes Gloria an impressively dark character.
As Jackie and Gloria drive away at the end with a jar full of money and an El Paso real estate ad, Gloria waves goodbye to the ghosts trapped in the farmhouse (who are all lined up on the porch waving back), and it feels like the origin story of a superhero. Or maybe a supervillain. It’s going to depend on how well Jackie and Gloria get along.
Jess Salgueiro (Jackie) is Jesse in the web series comedy THE NINTH. Jesse plays center field for the Toronto Bedsprings of the (fictional) Ontario Intercity Baseball League. The eight episode series is currently streaming on CBC Gem in Canada. Her improbably intellectual teammates are played by Daryl Hinds, Melee Hutton, Corteon Moore, Christie Stewart, Benjamin Blais, Aaron Chartrand, and Michael Daniel Murphy. A trailer is available on YouTube.
Ava Preston (Gloria) is Trissy in CRITTERS ATTACK!, the fifth film in the Critters franchise. Unaware of the recent Critters invasion, Trissy and her brother Jake are taken on a hike by babysitter Drea (Tashiana Washington). Drea and the children encounter a seemingly harmless female critter named Bianca who is really an exiled Critter princess. A trailer is available on YouTube. Dee Wallace, who starred as Helen Brown in the original 1986 Critters movie, appears in this one as Aunt Dee. CRITTERS ATTACK! will be released by Warner Bros. on Blu-Ray, DVD, and digital HD on 23 July, and can be pre-ordered from Amazon.
The film will be released on Blu-Ray and DVD on 4 June.