As a result of the destruction caused by World War I and the Spanish Flu, countless spirits have become stranded in our world. Tomás, the young post-mortem photographer, ends up in a small Hungarian village during the freezing winter of 1918, after meeting a ten-year-old orphan girl, Anna.
Post Mortem stars Viktor Klem (Hacktion, The Whiskey Robber) as Tomás, the young post-mortem photographer, Fruzsina Hais (Berlin Station) as Anna, a ten-year-old orphan girl, and Judit Schell (Just Sex and Nothing Else, Vademberek) as Marcsa. The film was directed by Péter Bergendy and was written by Péter Bergendy, Piros Zánkay, and Gábor Hellebrandt. The film has already received twenty-seven awards, including “Best Feature Film” at Grimmfest (2022), “Best Screen Play” at C-FEM Murcian Fantastic European Film Festival (2021) and was also nominated by Hungary for the 2022 Academy Award for Best International Feature Film.
Firstly, if you follow our page, you’ll know I’m a sucker for period horrors so there is definitely going to be a bit of a bias in this review. Also, I do love a good foreign film as Hollywood’s formulas can become extremely repetitive, especially when you watch as many horror movies as we do. With those admissions out of the way, let’s jump right in.
The film starts with an explosive opening (literally) and some gorgeous cinematography. While I absolutely detest war and war movies in general, Post Mortem has a truly great opening scene that sets the tone for the coming events. It really is a macabre dance of death set to a wonderfully morbid score, grabbing the viewer’s attention from the film’s onset. The grey, near-colourless tone of the opening cinematography remains throughout the film, an almost ashen palette that was a solid choice for the film.
We are introduced to both our stars in the opening scene, though our unlikely pair of heroes only officially meet later. We then jump to a fair, where Tomás is now working as a post-mortem photographer after his retirement from the service. He is quite a master of his art, and although seemingly morbid to our more modern sensibilities, he seems to truly bring joy and closure to his clientele. It is during one of these sessions that Anna, the young lady from his earlier visions, enters his life. She suggests that he should follow her and her kin to their town, as they have many dead and could make great use of his services…though we do have some foreboding warnings about ghosts and the like from Anna, who is somewhat unsettling.
As Tomás accompanies the townsfolk back to their settlement and prepares the tools and tricks of his trade, strange happenings and eerie hauntings start to accost Tomás, leading him to believe that there is something far more sinister at work in this town. Anna, too, seems to be somehow involved and the two work together to solve the mystery that very well may take their lives.
Klem and Hais absolutely nail their roles, with Hais stealing the scenes that she is in. Both provide sterling, award-worthy portrayals of their characters and the supporting cast was fantastic to boot. Complementing their acting were sets, props, a haunting score and gorgeous cinematography throughout the film. Even the special effects were beyond what I was expecting, with nothing cheesy or tacky at all–everything was near flawless.
Also, if you enjoyed the pacing of films like Insidious (2012), where the action starts pretty early on and stays strong and steady throughout the film, then this is definitely one for you. We don’t have to wait for the film’s climax to finally see some action after an hour of creaky stairs and jump scares…oh, no. Post Mortem hits the ground running and sprints all the way across that finish line. Without spoilers, I’d safely say that you’re going to see more supernatural spookery in this film’s letter half than you will in any other film you watch this spooky season.
I’d say my biggest gripe is that the screener that I received was the English dub and that I would really have preferred to have seen the original with subtitles instead. Apart from that, I was left wanting for nothing. It was a great film and I completely understand all of the praise that has been heaped upon it; it is all well deserved.
Thanks for reading and as always, stay sordid. Post Mortem will have its international release on Halloween, October 31st, 2022 on Amazon, iTunes, Google and the Sky Store. Trailer and artwork are below.
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