The Scoop: 2009, unrated, directed by Glenn McQuaid, starring Dominic Monaghan, Ron Perlman, and Larry Fessenden
Tagline: Never trust a corpse.
Summary Capsule: Graverobbing can be a rather lucrative business, if you know what corpses to nab.
Lissa’s Rating: I keep wanting to call it “I Sell Dead People.” The Sixth Sense pimp!
Lissa’s Review: Normally, I have no interests in movies with vampires and ghoulies and zombies and all that. I really don’t. I don’t get the appeal of any of them. They’re gross and icky and who wants to watch people drinking blood or running around with body parts falling off of them? But every once in a while something successfully intrigues me, although usually I find I’m more interested in the humans. Like Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I wouldn’t be half so interested if she was the vampire. Anyway.
I Sell the Dead is a little indie flick that caught my eye first and foremost because of Dominic Monaghan. As much as I love the Lord of the Rings trilogy, I really started liking Monaghan as an actor when he played Charlie in Lost. I liked his performance enough that he joined my list of actors that I’ll watch a movie just because they’re in it… or at least give it a chance if it looks remotely good. And this one, a black comedy about a pair of grave robbers who pulled up supernatural corpses, looked pretty good.
I have to admit, Monaghan’s name got me to watch the trailer, and then the style of the trailer got me to watch the movie. The movie has that sort of… acid washed feel, I guess. Artistic, stylish… it makes me think of Tim Burton, Baz Lurhman, or Darren Lynn Bousman, who did Repo! The Genetic Opera. And actually, let’s talk Repo for a second.
A few months ago, I reviewed Repo. My review for it wasn’t glowing, but I commented that there were a lot of things I really, really liked about it, and a lot of things I really, really hated. I have to say, months later, parts of the movie still really stand out to me, and I mean that in both a great and a terrible way. But one thing I remember saying is that when you take big risks, you risk big failures. (Okay, those weren’t my exact words, but the sentiment was the same.)
In a lot of ways, I felt very much about I Sell the Dead as I felt about Repo. There were some parts of it that were just really good, and I really enjoyed. There were parts I really didn’t. However, it wasn’t as polarizing a movie for me. On the roller coaster of good/bad, Repo was the one that has the name like The Black Widow or the SuperDuper Nauseator. It’s the one that flips you upside down and takes you up way over the park and flings you around until you get off and say “I don’t know if I want to puke or ride it again!” I Sell the Dead is like the kiddie coaster. Same idea, not as dramatic. And that’s because I Sell the Dead has its risks, but they just aren’t as big. True, the lows aren’t as low, but the highs aren’t as high, either.
The acting ranged from solid to quite good. I have to say that Dominic Monaghan did the comedic aspects of his role very well, and I enjoyed the entire time he was on screen. He and Larry Fessenden, who played his business partner and friend Willie Grimes, had some great chemistry together. I could have done without the tacked on love interest, although at least she had a role in the story, and the villains were kind of underused. But the talent was fun. The sets and costumes were probably done cheap but done well- I really liked the look of the movie. The movie itself really had the feeling of a stage play- I was a little surprised to learn it hadn’t been adapted from one.
What was frustrating about the movie was that the plots threads sort of didn’t weave together neatly. It’s a short film, weighing in at 85 minutes, and yet it didn’t feel all that tight to me. I felt like there were very distinct sections that didn’t much relate to each other, and the supernatural stuff just… I don’t know. It’s tough to put my finger on what didn’t quite work for me with it, but it was off. Not crash-and-burn off, just meh off. Like I said, I remember Repo months later, very vividly. I wonder if I’ll remember I Sell the Dead like that, and I’m guessing no.
Regardless, if your options are I Sell the Dead or the new Jennifer Aniston rom-com, don’t gouge your eyes out or turn on that piece of claptrap. Go for I Sell the Dead. It’s got it’s flaws, but it’s a reasonably entertaining movie.
If You Liked This Movie, Try:
- Big Fish
- Moulin Rogue!
- Repo! The Genetic Opera