If you are looking for a film that is decidedly different from just about anything you have watched recently, look no further than director Isti Madarász’s Hungarian feature Halfway Home (Átjáróház, 2022). This film, which boasts supernatural elements galore, is perhaps the most charming, whimsical consideration of love and death that you are likely to see this year.
Kriztián (Péter Bárnai) and Ági (Vivien Rujder) were both rescued from a hospital fire at birth. Kriztián was raised by a witch, which may help him after he is late for a first date — the pair are unaware of each other’s shared hospital story — with Ági. His tardiness resulted in her accidental death. Luckily for Kriztián, he has just landed a new job as a morgue attendant where the dead who have something left undone before their demise wait for a certain period, ascending into Heaven if their desire is fulfilled or meeting with a sadistic demon if it is not — and Ági’s body winds up at that same morgue, giving the pair a second chance at a relationship, although one person is alive and the other is deceased.
Halfway Home serves up a heaping helping of witchcraft, demonic danger, and souls having a difficult time with the afterlife, but there is little in the way of dread, scares, and gore, as Madarász, working from a screenplay by Attila Veres, focuses more on the fanciful, romantic side of things. There’s plenty of rumination on life and love, all packaged in a gorgeous-looking cinematic work that had me spellbound for the entire running time. The special effects, costumes, and set design all look great, the performances are enchanting, and Gábor Garai captures all of the magical proceedings beautifully.
If you are in the mood for a feel-good cinematic break that deals with elements beloved to horror film fans but that goes for the heartstrings rather than gut punches, I highly recommend the quirky, highly unique Halfway Home.
Halfway Home is part of Fantaspoa, which takes place in Porto Alegre, Brazil from April 14–23.