Reviews | Written by Martin Unsworth 29/08/2021

POST MORTEM [FrightFest 2021]

Ghosts and death abound in this quirky Hungarian horror film set after the First World War.

Tomás (Viktor Klem) survived being blown up and almost left for dead in the trenches, and has taken up the art of post mortem photography in a travelling carnival. The man who saved him - who was a cameraman in the war - acts as his mouthpiece in the show, revealing what he saw when he was ‘dead’. He meets a girl, Anna (Fruzsina Hais), who he’s sure he’s seen before, who tells him there are plenty of people to photograph at her village since they’ve been afflicted with the Spanish flu. There’s not just the dead to work with, as Tomás and Anna have to deal with a full town of ghosts.

With elements of folk horror and a black sense of humour, Post Mortem is one of those films that is a joy to stumble across. It’s directed wonderfully by Péter Bergendy, and boasts some spectacular effects once it gets going. Even before the big set pieces, there’s plenty to enjoy with the photographer posing the corpses with their families. This was a popular tradition in Victorian England and other places and is still practised in some cultures. If we didn’t know better, we’d be convinced that real corpses were used here they are so realistic.

The small Eastern European village and creepy visuals help give the film an eerie, believable atmosphere, bringing to mind films such as Russian classic Viy. It’s beautifully filmed by András Nagy, and builds to a fiery climax influenced by the likes of Poltergeist and Dario Argento’s Inferno.

Post Mortem deserves to gain more than a cult following. This is world cinema at its very best and certainly accessible to genre fans.

POST MORTEM is sold internationally by NFI World Sales