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The Undertaker (2005)

A young woman visits an undertaker to organise the funeral of her father. Unusually cheerful and self-possessed for someone freshly bereaved, she catches the eye of the friendly young ... See full summary »


Joe Penhall


Joe Penhall


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Credited cast:
Steve Hunt Steve Hunt ... Body
Rhys Ifans ... The Undertaker
Tessa Peake-Jones ... Widow
Natalie Press ... Young Woman


A young woman visits an undertaker to organise the funeral of her father. Unusually cheerful and self-possessed for someone freshly bereaved, she catches the eye of the friendly young undertaker and they go out for a drink. Over a glass of wine she asks if she can see her father's body and they go to the embalming suite where the undertaker, in a spectacularly ill-judged moment, shows her a special trick with disastrous consequences. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


An undertaker forms an awkward bond with the daughter of a man he has to bury.


Short | Drama







Release Date:

24 October 2005 (UK) See more »

Filming Locations:

London, England, UK


Box Office


£20,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

BBC Films See more »
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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
See full technical specs »

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User Reviews

Nice atmosphere but little else
4 August 2006 | by bob the mooSee all my reviews

When a mother and daughter come into his business to arrange the funeral of their father, the undertaker agrees to go out for a drink with the daughter, who seems to have accepted the loss of her father and is dealing with it very well. After a few drinks though, she asks to see the body before the funeral and together they return to his parlour. As he talks about death and his beliefs as an undertaker though, something is happening.

I'm not sure what I'm supposed to make of this short film. When I saw it, it was screened in a slot that most short films would kill for – evening on BBC2 following a prime evening drama slot and I was expecting a lot from it. The film opens well with a good atmosphere and gradual buildup which appears to be going somewhere. However I must confess that it ended in a way that I found unsatisfactory and lacking substance. As director, Penhall has delivered a real good tone to the film that is rather foreboding and dark but as writer he doesn't seem sure how to deliver whatever it is he was trying to do or say. Perhaps I am the thick one (I hope I am) because maybe I just missed it but I must admit that the style was the all here.

Considering this the cast actually do reasonably well. Ifans drives the film forward with a weird performance that suits his character. He is the heart of the film and it is a shame that the style and atmosphere is given priority over him. He is ably supported by Press and Peake-Jones although the most memorable appearance will be from Hunt – although again it would have been nice to have the film making more of it.

Overall this is an interesting short film in terms of style and atmosphere and in these ways Penhall works well. However as writer it would have helped to have brought more out of the film and to have been a bit more obvious or well-developed.

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