My Dead Dad (2024)
My Dead Dad (2024)

Genre: Short and Documentary Running Time: 26 min.

Release Date: February 11th, 2024 MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Director: Erik Osterholm, Abby Ellis Actors: Olivia Gray Konrath, Christopher Gray, David Hunt, Erin Konrath

 


 

“Y

ou’re gonna lose someone that you care about, at some point in your life.” In Washington, DC, Olivia Gray Konrath goes to visit forensic anthropologist Dr. David Hunt to retrieve the cleaned and reassembled, complete skeleton of her father – fully articulated and put together with wires and screws and hinges and bolts. After he died of septic shock, it was revealed that his last will and testament specifically requested that his bones be preserved to be put on display at the science lab at his old high school. During the several-hour journey to New York, Olivia is joined by her aunt Erin, who will help cart the morbid structure around (often posed in a wheelchair) to various landmarks, as if a genuine sightseer (at one point, she even flies “him” in a plane and takes him skating).

“This is absolutely ridiculous.” Charted out like an epic road trip, the odd trio stops for photos, stays in hotels, and continues to treat their de-fleshed VIP as if a feeling entity – sitting him up in a recliner and even placing sunglasses and a hat on his flensed pate. Olivia initially struggles with a sense of disrespectfulness – after, of course, the eerie surprise of seeing a beloved relative reduced to one’s innermost, unseen components – though she soon warms up to the notion (so much so that she takes the educational subject with her on clearly questionable, obviously needless adventures). Shock eventually transitions into nostalgia – and then to the cumbersomeness of simply transporting the cadaverous figure across the bustling city. The odyssey itself brings up fond memories and glum regrets, but it’s a fascinating look into a decidedly unique situation.

“You get used to it.” Fortunately, this short documentary briefly delves into who Olivia’s father was (an architectural historian in New York), which sheds light onto why he wished to be so curiously maintained postmortem (though the brunt of his achievements, his collaborations with notable people, and his cult following are glaringly superficial). The burden, however, lies with Olivia – a levelheaded, even-tempered, strong-speaking woman who aids remarkably well in relating this tale. It’s easy enough to sympathize with and understand her efforts, each further bolstered by superb photography and nonintrusive camerawork. But by the end, it’s not a revelatory experience; no truly profound insights are observed or shared (Olivia’s thoughts on the matter are elucidated yet commonplace), and it concludes before any sense of lasting purpose or legacy can be demonstrated with the skeleton’s final resting place. It’s an amusing concept, but its potential for compelling commentary or lingering pathos essentially stops when the running time does.

– Mike Massie

  • 6/10