Post Mortem (2020)
Director (and co-writer): Peter Bergendy
Cast: Viktor Klem, Fruzsina Hais, Judit Schell, Andrea Ladanyi, Zsolt Anger
A post mortem photographer and a little girl confront ghosts in a haunted village after the First World War. – IMDB
This year’s Toronto After Dark is definitely new experiences coming one after another. Post Mortem is a Hungary horror film. Being someone who hasn’t seen a Hungary film before, this is a completely new territory to explore. Horror movies especially revolving ghosts and hauntings are the creepiest types of horror in my personal opinion so this one was right up my alley.
Port Mortem is set during the times of World War I and after that and the Spanish Flu and centred around a photographer Tomas (Viktor Klem) that has survived a near death experience during the war to come out afterwards selling his craft as a post mortem photography. A little girl Anna (Fruzsina Hais) shows up one day from a neighboring village and asks him to help with her own town’s hauntings. Packed with part skepticism and curiosity, he goes to the town as weird things start happening as he helps the recently deceased and their families with their post mortem photographs.
The story overall is pretty good. The whole investigation and a stranger going into a small village brings in a lot of suspense as he is discovering what’s going on along with the audience. Plus, ghost stories are rather appealing overall especially when it involves hauntings where this one is executed rather well in terms of plot. The film does almost reach 2 hours in length so in the middle it does seem to drag out a little. The setting and time period adds a certain level of atmosphere which makes almost like a gray filter over the screen and adds a very gloomy feeling.
The idea of post mortem photographs in itself is a pretty creepy thing in general. A lot of the unsettling horror moments do involve the actual post mortem photography as Tomas sets up his shots and works with the different bodies. A lot of unexplained things happen creating some great scary and unsettling moments. There are also other rather mysterious and sinister things that happen creating a good part of the horror and bringing in the ghost element a little bit more as Tomas and Anna try to find out why this is happening and what it wants. Some other horror elements include some possession going on which has a rather scary sequence with a little boy involved at one point while in contrast, there’s a part in the final act which sees a lot of people being pulled up levitating in the air that feels a little overdone.
In terms of characters, its main focus is on Tomas and Anna who are really good characters overall. They do have their own little stories through conversations which shed some light on the village itself. At the same time, there is a deeper meaning to Tomas for agreeing to do this for an unknown little girl which also builds up on their dynamic as they investigate together. The older character and the younger girl does have this protective element to it especially putting in contrast their reactions to the scary events happening. I’d like to say that Anna, played by Fruzsina Hais is absolutely fantastic. She is such a charming character despite her age.
Overall, Post Mortem is a pretty effective ghost haunting horror film. There are some moments which feel a little stretched out and some horror elements feel a tad overused losing its effect and actually having an oddly comedic feeling to it. However, its core element of photography and recording technology in that time and era is incorporated well, much like using the post mortem photography as an effective horror element. Its definitely one worth checking out!\
*Post Mortem is currently available from October 13th to 17th on Toronto After Dark Film Festival’s virtual platform. You can find all the info HERE!*