Grimmfest Easter 2022: Post Mortem

A tendency to draw out the narrative for too long, coupled with some questionable effects undermine an otherwise very effective ghost story.

Synopsis: A post mortem photographer and a little girl confront ghosts in a haunted village after the First World War.

Starting by throwing the viewer immediately into the chaos and destruction of war, Post Mortem is a film consumed by its impact and the long-lasting hold it has on those involved, either directly or indirectly. After he suffers an injury during the war Tomás (Viktor Klem) is involved in post mortem photography. Sent to a village inundated by the war dead and flu victims, there is no shortage of work, but the spirits are not to be confined to their photographs, with the growing threat surrounding him.

Post Mortem has something of an identity crisis. On one level, it operates as a sober, even sombre exploration of communal grief, but on another, it wants to indulge in short, sharp bursts of more conventional jump-scare horror. This results in a film with a very solid creep factor that is sometimes undermined by an inability of the effects to match the overriding tone. Jerky movements in the background initially offer the kind of pleasing jolt that will stay with you, but overuse and making them too prominent shows the cracks in occasionally sub-par CGI.

Viktor Klem’s performance underpins everything, always striking the right tone for the scene. Tomás’ own brush with death gives him a sensitivity to the loss in the village and a unique relationship with Anna (Fruzsina Hais), a young girl who has also had a near-death experience. Their interactions offer sensitivity and personal touch to the wider, more anonymous nature of the village.

With the pair offering an anchor for the supernatural elements, it allows the supernatural elements to run wild. Levitations and increasingly chaotic scenes in the village are initially refreshing inclusions, offering something different. However, these are inclined to outstay their welcome, with intense movement and wailing suddenly disrupting the film’s focus. This inability to know when to end a scene hampers the film, right up until the conclusion. Each fade to black operates as a reminder that the film could end there, only to add an extra scene to diminishing returns.

The film is at its best when it balances the disquieting stillness of the bodies in the photographs against the tense threat of sudden movement. Drawing out that tension for as long as possible is where the film exercises a real understanding of our discomfort with the deceased and the ways death was commemorated in the past. The difficulty of processing such immense loss permeates the film and even if you find yourself worn out by the reliance on loud noises at certain parts of the film, that very human need to grieve sits at the heart of it.

Flawed in execution but effective in terms of scares, Post Mortem is definitely worth your time.

3.5 out of 5 stars

3.5 out of 5 stars

Post Mortem plays as part of Grimmfest Easter on Friday April 15th at 10.15pm. Please see the Grimmfest schedule for more information and tickets.

Author: ScaredSheepless

Film and television fan, with a particular love for horror.

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