Short Film Review: The Dead Collectors

Brendan Cleaves’s The Dead Collectors is a captivating short film that seamlessly combines elements of horror and comedy to deliver a totally entertaining experience.

The film opens with a family gathered around the bedside of an elderly woman who is nearing the end of her life. As they are sombrely giving their last goodbyes, the scene quickly switches to two men sitting on a couch downstairs, anxiously waiting for the woman to finally croak. In this split second, the film cleverly transitions from a serious and somber atmosphere to a moment of unexpected humour.

We soon learn that the men are there to collect the dead once she passes (with the clue from the film’s title), a project by the government it seems. One collector is experienced in this job, showing patience, wisdom, and empathy (Ivan Kaye), and the other is young, impatient, and apathetic (Elliot James Langridge). After the woman finally passes, her daughter runs downstairs sobbing, only to be met with the young collector’s seemingly dismissive response, “If she’s passed, we need to get up there quickly”.

Well, it turns out they do need to get up there quickly, because in this universe they dead rapidly change into…something. The woman suddenly wakes up with white eyes, but before anything can happen, the collectors take care of it just in time, albeit a bit messily. Amidst the grieving family’s turmoil, the collectors continue their macabre work, injecting dark humour into their grim tasks.

The idea that someone who died by natural causes can turn in to a sort of undead is a unique twist. It raises questions about the nature of the collectors’ job and the world they inhabit. But, Cleaves wisely chooses not to delve into all the details, and it works, leaving us to fill in the gaps with our imagination. One thing is clear, the way people deal with the dead has had to change.

One of the film’s strengths lies in the outstanding acting performances of the collectors. The dynamic between them and the way they play off each other is so integral to the success of the short. Langridge’s expressions and mannerisms are a consistent source of comedy and add extra hilarity to the film while Kaye’s dry, more mature humour adds a different comedic layer.

The Dead Collectors is an extremely well-executed short film. It keeps the audience engaged with its clever pacing, never lingering too long on any one scene. The story is compelling, the acting is stellar and it is an effective blend of genres. The cinematography enhances the overall atmosphere, capturing both the somber moments of grief and the chaotic and amusing situations the collectors find themselves in.

Cleaves has created an alternate world where the deaths of our loved ones need to be quickly dealt with in a more bureaucratic and business-like manner, but we get to experience this world with a solid dose of dark, macabre humour. Just the way we like it!

You can watch The Dead Collectors now on Alter’s You Tube channel.

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