HOME  |  FILMS  |  REVIEWS

Halfpace

Critic:

Alasdair MacRae

|

Posted on:

7 May 2022

Film Reviews
Halfpace
Directed by:
Kundan Sad
Written by:
Gary Rowlands
Starring:
Shreyesh Atkar, Shivani Jaiswal, Ruturaj Wankhede
UKFRF Banner (2).jpg

Lonely teen Dev (Shreyesh Atkar) is bedbound following a car accident, seeking company he reaches out online and meets Dwiti (Shivani Jaiswal). The two form a relationship, centring around their common love of cinema. This brief happiness is quickly upturned however, when Dev discovers that Dwiti had been murdered by the notorious Full Moon Killer. Desperate to solve the mystery around his beloved, Dev must use his cyber sleuthing skills to hunt down the serial killer.

 

For a murder mystery the most crucial component is the filmmakers’ ability to keep the audience guessing. And Halfpace delivers on that premise. Throughout there are many competing and intriguing possibilities that director Kundan Sad effectively manages like spinning plates. For one, Dev is an unreliable narrator, heavily medicated, suffering from amnesia following his accident, and still struggling with trauma from his father’s suicide. Then there is his step-mother, unable to control her temper, ruthless one minute and apologetic the next. Throw in the usual fixtures: a shady detective, a political conspiracy, and a suspicious figure who appears at Dev’s window, and there is a healthy mix. Not to mention the inclusion of the supernatural. Dev has the inexplicable ability to communicate with Dwiti after her death. Furthermore, he receives phone calls late at night from an unknown medium. And most eerily he hears whispers on the wind, “Sarve Santu Nirayana” – “death to all”.

 

Films that have a heavy reliance on an online component have a tendency to feel gimmicky. Although recently there have been a handful great ones, Rob Savage’s Host, Mamoru Hosoda’s Belle, and Jane Schoenbrun’s We’re All Going to the World’s Fair, to name a few. But how does Halfpace fare as an internet age Rear Window? What is instantly apparent is that Dev’s world bears little to no resemblance of the sweltering soundstage of Hitchcock’s work, in fact he rarely looks out other than through his computer screen. Lacking in the voyeuristic component, it means that the camera lingers mostly on the central character, requiring economical shot choice and editing to keep the tension up, which Sad mostly accomplishes. Part of this owes to a smart narrative decision by having Dev encase himself in an artificial world of purple and green neon lights. This simple colouring makes all the difference. It makes the frame easy on the eyes, but it also adds to the sense of displacement and detachment from everyday reality. His creation of this ‘other’ space might also go some way to emphasising the friction between Dev and the only frequent physical intruder into his world, not Grace Kelly, but rather his step-mother. Despite this, one of the biggest missteps Sad makes is the over-reliance on using drone footage of the neighbourhood as scene breaks. These shots take the audience out of Dev’s world, and they begin to irritate as scenes become shorter and more intense only to be punctuated by long pauses for aerial photography.

 

Halfpace is an effective murder mystery with many intriguing threads entangled. Smart directing from Kundan Sad keeps the tension up for the one-hundred-and-ten-minute runtime, a significant feat considering the claustrophobic environs. And whilst it may struggle with the stigma of being a film centred around the internet, it ultimately has enough substance to overcome the usual failings of the sub-genre.

About the Film Critic
Alasdair MacRae
Alasdair MacRae
Indie Feature Film, World Cinema