I Sell the Dead (2008)
★ / ★★★★
A grave robber (Dominic Monaghan) on death row started to confess his adventures with his old partner (Larry Fessenden) to a priest (Ron Perlman) who could ultimately decide his fate. I heard a number of good things about this horror-comedy set in the 19th century but it failed to impress me. Twenty minutes into the movie, I started to feel bored because the story wasn’t going anywhere. I thought it had potential when Monaghan and Fessenden stumbled upon their first supernatural (somewhat funny) encounter, but it took the path of silly ordinariness instead of the path of real darkness and irony. There were too many scenes when the two leads would argue or just hang out and the audiences were left outside of their jokes. Think of it as standing next to two close friends laughing like there’s no tomorrow and you have no idea what is so amusing. It’s just awkward and it doesn’t encourage us to stick around. Neither of the main characters were worth rooting for. To me, they were just a pair of graverobbers and there was nothing particularly special about them. There was no redeeming quality despite their actions and they lacked an extra dimension, a crucial element that makes us effortlessly identify with them. A majority of this picture was obvious. Everyone voiced out what they were thinking or what they were about to do. Watching something devoid of curiosity or surprise or a slight hint of intelligence is definitely an unpleasant experience. Furthermore, the film lacked a much needed gravity or tension. For a pair of graverobbers encountering so many weird phenomena, I didn’t feel like they were shocked or excited or curious about the things that were unfolding before their eyes. If I meet a real vampire or dug up an alien corpse, I would start to question everything I was lead to believe was true. I would have some sort of a conflict within myself and it would reflect on my actions. Written and directed by Glenn McQuaid, “I Sell the Dead” was painful to watch to say the least. This was supposed to be the winner of the Slamdance Film Festival for Best Cinematography but it ultimately doesn’t mean anything if it doesn’t resonate with the audiences. It was just too all over the place for my liking and it was no fun watching randomness. The movie may have only been eighty minutes long but it felt longer than two hours because I wasn’t having fun with it. Lastly, I was excited to see it because some reviewers pointed out the sharpness of its dark comedy. I don’t know what they consider as darkly comic but if I were to exaggerate, I would say the movie was a very light dark comedy. The movie lacked teeth so the ironies lacked bite.