The UHF of the film world.
Latest news

Zack Mosley [Celluloid 10.18.13] Mexico horror drama

Halley is 10 minutes worth of story material, luxuriating in 84 minutes of screen-time.

Beto (Alberto Trujillo) is a living corpse. Not just a living corpse in fact, he's also a functioning member of society. He holds down a steady job at a gym, where he watches people exercise and improve their bodies. Meanwhile at home in his non-descript apartment he is doing everything he can to fight rot, cleaning leaky sores and clipping dead flesh and removing maggots from his skin and whatnot. His decomposition seems to be arrested somewhere between rigor mortis and putrefaction. He puts on a new layer of make-up whenever he needs to leave the house.

And that's basically it. He tells his boss at the gym (Luly Trueba) that he's too sick to continue working. She seems to genuinely care for him, and pushes her way into his life. They go out dancing, and he remains nearly mute, taking no food or drink. She comments on his “old man smell” as she makes a pass at him, but she seems not to notice his other corpse-like attributes. The entourage of insects or the discoloured eyes, perhaps? Nobody else seems to notice that Beto is dead. He looks genuinely ill at all times, but other people on the bus or in the street ignore him. Sadly, this seems realistic.

Halley is disgusting, but it would be inaccurate to call it a horror movie. It's a low-key character drama that happens to feature a corpse in the lead. And like many low-key character dramas, it has exactly one idea that it stretches to the absolute limit. For some this will be meditative, for others it will be tedious. I think I might be in the latter camp, although I was not entirely bored all the way through. In later reflection, the film seems more substantial than it actually was. The lead disintegrates before our eyes. What does this say about the human condition? Fill in your own blank.

Halley's lack of narrative gristle is kind of a shame, because it's exceptionally well-made on a technical level. The makeup effects are realistic. The cinematography is at times beautiful. Alberto Trujillo is convincingly lethargic as a living corpse. And the story does have a unique central idea and a certain thematic thrust, however slight. But all of this might have been better served in the format of a short film. It has become a cliche to say this, but in Halley's case it's true.* While short films are seen even less than foreign indies, it's hard to justify a scant concept like this taking up the running time real estate of a feature. I can't imagine ever watching it again. The Fly it is most certainly not.

All of this said, I don't want to beat up too hard on this movie. It attempts very little, but it succeeds at what it's attempting with a certain stylistic panache. I'm sure it will probably find a few admirers with iron-forged attention spans who will read into it what they will.

*It's also true in the case of The Oxbow Cure, a similar VIFF movie accurately reviewed by Marina.

You might also like

Leave a comment