Official Selection, Rotterdam Film Festival 2013
A man of few words, Beto leads a dull existence that sees him spend his days in front of the tube and his nights working the graveyard shift as a security guard at a gym. A deep depression consumes Beto as he suffers through the joyless monotony of his daily life. It would be easy to believe that he is simply waiting for death, if it wasn’t for the fact that this life-ending event had already come to pass. Beto is a zombie — his body nothing but a slowly disintegrating mass of flesh. He constantly avoids human contact in an attempt to conceal his peculiar physical condition. Being a zombie, however, hasn’t eliminated his conscience. Beto knows that the end is near. Cadavers don’t last forever and it’s only a matter of time before he becomes little more than useless pile of rot. But just as his condition starts to worsen drastically, Beto makes an encounter as unexpected as a comet in flight, one that will reignite within him a hopeful vitality that he had thought lost forever.
The sumptuous WE ARE WHAT WE ARE (Fantasia 2010) solidified Mexico’s position on the map of contemporary genre cinema. With HALLEY, newcomer Sebastian Hoffman follows in the footsteps of Jorge Michel Grau to create his own hyperrealist tale of horrifying ordeals. With talents reminiscent of Ken Loach, he transports us into present-day Mexico to witness the evolution of one of fantastic cinema’s key symbolic personalities. Putting zombies within an urban context that closely resembles our own gives Hoffman the opportunity to deal with many of society’s existing ailments, such as disease, alienation, and isolation. The film’s cerebral dimension, however, doesn’t stop HALLEY from being emotionally rich. A profoundly tragic, Romero-esque character, Beto makes indifference impossible. His infernal quest for redemption is sure to moisten a few viewers’ eyes as they are faced with a struggle for survival with which we can all identify. Devoted fans of David Cronenberg will also be pleased to see several sequences of bodily horror so gruesome that they would make a corpse shiver. Thanks to surprisingly convincing special effects and a state of mind twisted enough to imagine all sorts of awful things, Hoffman manages to convey his character’s unbearable suffering without ever seeking provocation. A poetic counterpoint to THANATOMORPHOSE, which is also featured this year, HALLEY is neo-gothic tale filled with great sensitivity that touches us first and foremost with its tangible humanity.
— Simon Laperrière