Living with the Dead (2002)

82% – Critics
82% – Audience

Living with the Dead Storyline

James Van Praagh (Ted Danson) is a fifty yeared-old man who has his own small business, insomnia at night and leads a lonely life. As his business is going badly, he needs to do something about it, and has the idea of creating the company’s own website. He hires a successful professional web designer Midge Harmon (Queen Latiffah).She had been said by her psychic that she would meet somebody called James who has an ailing mother (Diane Ladd). James tells her that his mother is alright, although she’s sick in hospital. Soon, James dreams with his dead grandmother (Bethoe Shirkoff) on his mother’s side calling his mother. That night his mother dies and is buried with a rosary. James sees a strange woman from Idaho who gives him a nesttle of blue eggs.Midge gives an ouija board to James and she insists that he talk to her psychic, Adrian (Michael Moriarty).James tells recently-widowed woman, Mrs Ziff (Joy Coghill) that his husband (Bill Meilen) did not suffer a heart attack out of the blue. A police informant tried to steal his watch from him and he suffered a heart attack.James’ business goes from bad to worst, as Frank, his business consultant (Hiro Kanagawa) advises him. While talking to his psychiatrist (Jay Brazeau) concerning having two sessions with him instead of one, James watches as a depressed woman (Jessica Schreier) in a rage ravages through the documents of the psychiatrist’s office looking for something, and then takes a whole bottle of pills, committing suicide. James realises it was the psychiatrist’s wife. He stops attending consultation with him.Detective Karen Condrin (Mary Steenburgen) finally visits the informant, and finds a gold watch belonging to the deceased mother. James advises Midge to stop smoking, or she’ll die because of it. He also tells Midge of her grandmother (the strange woman who gave him the eggs)- Those eggs have something to do with a boy who James sees. James keeps on watching that boy, who had been buried alive.He learns that it’s Dennis Branston (Neil Denis) who was buried alive in the middle of a turtle conservation park. James sees 5 boys more (Joel Palmer, Ben Johnson, Branden Nadon, Matthew Brevner, Jaren Brandt Bartlett). One of the boys, Andy (Reece Thompson) was a frande of James when he was a child (Connor Widdows).There are also images and scenes of a kidnapped boy. Somebody has written in one of the dishes that he’ll see his mother soon and then gives him some drug or pill with his next meal.Allan Van Praagh (Jack Palance), James’ father, advises his son to take some medicine so that he won’t have more visions. James refuses. He’ll try to help other people and tell the concerned people about his visions.Midge gets diagnosed with cancer and has to suffer the chemeotherapy. Midge wants to leave the chemeo because she says it’s not working. James insists that she go on with the procedure.It is discovered that Dennis was the first person murdered of a gunshot, and that somebody brought him flowers every year. Later, he would kill a boy and bury in a circle around him. When the circle was finished, the murderer started another circle. They follow the clue of the buckets to the florist Linda (Linda Darlow), who says that, after years of secrecy and anonimosity, the man who bought the flowers finally appeared to buy a final bucket of flowers. The postman (David Makay) interrupts Linda, but she talks to Condrin.One of the killed boy’s mother, Molly, thinks that his son is alive because she has been receiving flowers on mother’s day, birthdays, etc…At a restaurant, he passes a message to a businessman whose dead brother tells him that it was not his fault he had killed him while hunting. The businessman Richard de Rochelly (Tim Henry) gets extremely upset and suffers a heart attack right there. James wants to forget about the boys, because he thinks he has found the man who killed the boys, so he freaks out when he has a vision of them. Later in the car, he tells his mother’s ghost to go away.The kidnapped booy tries to run away but he is discovered.At hospital, Richard confesses that his brother Lester (Fred Henderson) killed the first boy by accident. Lester had only confessed that before to a Catholic priest (Lindsay Bourne). Lester brought flowers to the boy until he himself died.As James was brought up as a Catholic, Condrin asks him for help. James was adamant in leaving the case, but finally, he goes visiting the priest, who used to be a teacher of his. The priest is a tough person. While interviewing the priest, they hear the boy trying to get out. The priest says that there are rats in the basement.Afterwards, while having dinner with his father, James runs to hospital as Midge is about to die.Meanwhile, the boy breaks free from his prison but he has to go up a nosity staircase. His captor discovers him and imprisons him again. After the priest has left his church, Condrin goes back to the church on her own. Midge finally dies and James goes her funeral. James tells Adrian that he’s decided to stop working as a psychic. Condrin goes down to the basement. Behind a green door, she can only find rats. A man smoking a pipe watches Condrin.The case looks cold, and somebody makes the suggestion that James may be the serial killer.James has another vision with the boys. Dennis shows him a photograph of his mother, and James – who feels like one of those tied and gagged boys – also sees hers. The link among the boys is that they have all lost their mothers, the same as James. Condrin starts acting as if she thought James is the killer. Somebody is burying the boy alive, but when they go to the reservation, there’s nobody. James realises that the boy must have been buried in the cemetery, where Eddy’s corpse lies now. Condrin starts thinking that James is the killer, but finally goes to the cemetery. James goes to the cemetery and Condrin follows a black car which is leaving the area. Condrin enters a home – after following the car – but nobody seems to be home. She goes down to the basement, where there is another green door (very similar to the one at the church basement’s).There, she finds Eddie’s mother, one of the killed boys, scrubbing the floor clean. She says: “how terrible Eddie’s friends are.” At the police station, she says that Lester had confessed everything to her right before dying, and that she only wanted to bring friends for him to play on. When Lester confesses, she knew that his son was dead. Eddie talks to Molly through James so that she lets him and his friends leave. Molly breaks down and cries.

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Living with the Dead Movie Reviews

An Excellent Movie

James Van Praagh (Ted Danson) is a weird man who sees and communicates with dead people since he was a child. After the death of his mother Regina Van Praagh (Diane Ladd), he resolves the murder of an old man, and Detective Karen Condrin (Mary Steenburgen) gets close to him. He starts investigating what happened to a dead boy, who insists to try to communicate with him. Later, James and Karen realize that many boys have been murdered and buried in an isolated forest for seven years. There are a few suspects and many mystery to be resolved. This thriller is excellent, having a very tight screenplay. The characters are well-developed, the cast has excellent names, including Queen Latifah and Jack Palance and the direction is good. The plot has drama, thriller, crime and suspense and hooks the attention of the viewer until the last scene. My vote is eight.

Title (Brazil): `Falando Com os Mortos’ (`Talking With the Dead’)

Excellent – no other word

I didn’t expect much from that film. I was wrong. A man who can see the dead and talk with them is a risky subject. Besides, made for television movies dealing with supernatural events are often disappointing. Producers and directors seem to be afraid to scare audience in any way, and network self-censure doesn’t improve that. “Living With The Dead” is a miraculous exception that could break the rule – if television gives us more like this. The actors are all excellent, with a special mention to Ted Danson, who probably gives here his finest performance. Mary Steenburgen is fine too, and both Jack Palance and Diane Ladd are too famous for I say how good they are. The screenplay is excellent, one of the best in TV’s history. It alternates chilling and moving moments without any false note, using misdirection and red herrings with consummate skill. The whodunit is remarkably held and will let you guessing until the end. Characters are well-drawn, three-dimensional, not the puppets that one usually see in that kind of productions. A closer look reveals an intelligent reflection on death and how deal with it behind the thriller elements. And don’t forget the most important thing: it REALLY SCARES. As I’ve said above, TV movies are rather weak on that. Not “Living With The Dead”, that had me starting, shouting and shuddering more than once, without any gory effect. Kudos to the director. So if you like first-rate ghost stories, that one is a must-see for you. Don’t miss it. Maybe the dead are behind you… Don’t displease them!


I have to admit I didn’t have much faith in Ted Denson- he usually plays in comedies, and this movie is a drama. But after watching this movie, I have to beg for forgiveness for my lack of faith. 🙂 Denson was excellent and I was very impressed. The same can be said about Queen Latifah. They made me feel their fear, confusion, happiness etc. The plot was very good. I was in suspense the whole movie. Great direction, too. I loved the whole aura of the movie- dark and mysterious, spooky and creepy at times. It managed to be a suspense/horror movie, without being a standard horror movie. I mean, they don’t show blood or disgusting things like in “Scream” (for example), but psychologically horror, like “The sixth sense”. Hope you got my drift… 🙂

Bottom line: this movie was great, I really enjoyed everything about it: acting, script, photography, direction, plot…everything. If you have the chance to watch it- watch it. I think you’ll enjoy it… Have fun!!!