Director – Sebastian Hoffmann, Screenplay – Julio Chavezmontes & Sebastian Hoffmann, Producers – Julio Chavezmontes & Jaime Romandia, Photography – Metias Penachino, Music – Gustavo Mauricio Hern’ndez Davila, Visual Effects Supervisors – Gustavo Bellon & Cyntia Navarro, Makeup Effects – Adam Zoller, Production Design – Gabriela Garciandia. Production Company – Conaculta/Simplemente/Mantarraya/Piano/Imcine
Albert Trujillo (Albert), Luly Trueba (Silvia), Hugo Albores (Morgue Attendant)
Albert, an attendant at a gymnasium, tells his boss that he feels ill and cannot keep doing his job. His body is slowly rotting. He collapses and is taken to the morgue thought dead but gets up off the table.
Halley is a zombie film from Mexico. Or at least it would be more accurate to say that Halley is an almost zombie film. The central character is a man who is rotting and falling apart, his skin is badly peeling, he walks hunched over into himself and people tell him he exudes a smell. At one point, he collapses in a subway tunnel and is taken to the morgue believed dead but gets up off the slab and walks away. On the other hand, there are no familiar aspects that we would associate with a zombie film such as the desire to devour flesh. It reminds of one of British director Andrew Parkinson’s kitchen sink zombie films – I, Zombie: A Chronicle of Pain (1998) and Dead Creatures (2001) – in which zombies are essentially ordinary people but for the fact they are dead. There is no explanation of his condition ever given. It would be, for instance, entirely possible to construe an alternate interpretation of the film that says that Albert Trujillo is simply suffering from some sort of flesh-eating bacteria.
Moreover, debuting director Sebastian Hoffman’s approach is almost the exact opposite of a zombie or horror film. His is all show, methodical camerawork rather than in your face gore and shock set-pieces. The focus is clinical closeups of Albert Trujillo’s decaying flesh, or long shots of him hunched over staggering through the streets. Indeed, rather than any genre-identifying zombie film, the nearest you could compare Halley to might be something like The Machinist (2004). Trujillo gives a performance that is about as physically withdrawn and closed off as it is possible for a human being to get.
Unfortunately, such a slow and uneventful approach makes for a dull film. It is a zombie film where almost nothing happens. Case in point of how uneventful it gets is the scene where Albert Trujillo’s boss Luly Trueba invites him to her apartment after a night out drinking. You get the impression that she is coming onto him and sit expecting something terrible to finally happen – him to abruptly devour her, maybe some freaky zombie sex scenes, or even just her to react in horror at what he looks like after taking his clothes off. Instead … nothing happens, he just quietly announces he should go home and does just that.
Not to say that Halley is uninteresting. It sits for most of its running time on the verge of turning into something else. Alas, it never does and peters out to an ending where Albert Trujillo is seen copying the climax of Frankenstein (1818) and heading into the Arctic. The most amusing scene – the best in the whole film – is where Trujillo goes home from Luly Trueba’s place and starts jerking off, only for his dick to come off in his hand. It is a scene that is all implied – although we do see a shot of the gaping hole where his penis is supposed to be later on. This is something that the film needed more of. Indeed, what it gives us is something that would have made a great short film with a darkly funny punchline that instead been over-extruded to make for a dull feature.