By GRACE DETWILER
Starring Michael Smiley, Kerr Logan, Eileen O’Higgins
Directed by Imogen Murphy & Craig David Wallace
Written by John Murphy & Imogen Murphy
Acorn TV Original
The lost art of post-mortem memorial photography, in which corpses are posed with their living family members for a final memento of sorts, is the delightfully dark premise of Acorn TV’s new murder mystery, premiering on their site on May 18th. Titled DEAD STILL, this six-episode miniseries set in Victorian Ireland is the period-drama enthusiast’s next macabre attraction. Starring Michael Smiley (Luther) as the behind-the-times photographer of the dead, Brock Blennerhasset, DEAD STILL strikes an unlikely comical chord amidst a series of troubling murders, seemingly committed by a rival photographer with a knack for capturing his victims on film in their final moments.
As the plot of DEAD STILL unfolds, it becomes clear that photos of the recently deceased are not always used for the wholesome purpose of remembrance. After a string of murders are committed, a determined Detective Regan (Aidan O’Hare) discovers that someone has been selling images of murder victims on the streets of Dublin…but who? A leading expert on the subject of photographing the deceased, Blennerhasset suddenly finds himself in the middle of the investigation, alongside his mischievous niece Nancy, and ex-gravedigger assistant Molloy (Eileen O’Higgins and Kerr Logan respectively).
Self-described as an “off-beat dramady,” DEAD STILL may not be for the most hardcore of horror fans, but its murderously gothic leanings are certainly enough to satisfy any viewer looking for a more light-hearted spook. There are a few moments of more contemplative pacing, but the actors’ talented performances keep the audience wholly engaged in our characters. Kerr Logan, formerly of Game of Thrones, is particularly endearing as an avid fan of Blennerhasset’s work and an aspiring photographer himself, whose talents land him in a bit of trouble with one of Dublin’s knife-wielding street gangs.
While DEAD STILL takes an episode or two to find its tonal footing, I found myself excited to return to the show, both for its black humor and its grislier moments. The first two or three episodes are a bit less thrilling than the show’s conclusion, during which I was at the edge of my seat, but are certainly enjoyable to watch. Simultaneously managing to poke fun at a variety of Victorian sensibilities, while also featuring a few good scares, DEAD STILL has a little something for everyone. Just don’t show your kids; it’s a solid TV-MA
DEAD STILL really hits its stride around episode 4 and it is certainly worth the wait. As the plot moves toward the climax, the suspense picks up as Detective Regan closes in, secrets are revealed and DEAD STILL suddenly takes a much darker turn. Apart from a few bumps as the show gets going, DEAD STILL is still a deadly good time. For any lovers of 1800s intrigue tinged with murder, tune in to DEAD STILL’s premiere on May 18th, through the Acorn TV streaming service. The first two episodes will be released on that date, followed by the remaining four episodes weekly until June 15th. The finale of DEAD STILL seemingly sets up for a chilling second season, one I will be anxiously awaiting in the years to come.