Halfway (OT)

Stef (mid-thirties) is a talented architect, but after starting an affair with an assistant, he is fired by his employer, the father of his wife Nathalie. Stef  leaves the house and buys himself a luxury villa. After moving in, he aims to wind up a project he had started together with his assistant.

Looking round the house, Stef comes across an old radio set. He sticks the plug in the socket, receives a powerful electric shock and collapses on the floor unconscious. Stef wakes up to find a stranger standing in front of him. The man, who looks like a disgruntled tramp, says his name is Theo (40) and claims to live here in the house. Stef calls the police. They soon arrive only to find that Theo has  now disappeared. As soon as they have left, Theo reappears. This time, Stef photographs Theo with his mobile, but all he can see on the display is the floorlamp next to which Theo had been standing.

Stef’s plan to sell his drafts to another firm is abruptly thwarted by his assistant who has sold the  drafts in her own name! She even has the nerve to offer Stef a job as her assistant, which he coldly turns down. The state of the villa becomes increasingly chaotic due to Stef’s efforts to get rid of Theo. Eventually, Stef he is ready to believe that Theo is actually a ghost. An exorcist is called in but is unable to confirm Stef’s suspicion. Theo remains in the villa, more omnipresent than ever.  It is now Theo’s turn to drive Stef out of the house. His speciality is the manipulation of electrical goods and installations. Lights go on and off, the radio suddenly becomes unbearably loud or totally mute, or the warm water turns ice cold. Theo’s tricks with the loudspeaker result in Theo being  arrested for disturbance of the peace. Theo, whom we know to be a real ghost, but who can not be seen or heard by anyone else but Stef, was the former owner of the villa. He died here, whether it was an accident or suicide, no one knows. Stef discovers that Theo is somehow unable to leave the house.   This makes Stef even more determined to defend the villa, which he has actually paid for, against a ghost who enjoys provoking him. Theo’s ghostly tricks are eventually too much of a strain for Stef. He moves out of the house and into the garden which soon looks like an untidy camp site.

One day, Stef notices a young girl looking at the villa from across the road. They say hello and he learns that her name is Julie. Julie is 17 and does a bit of housework in the villa. They walk through the rooms chatting about nothing in particular, when Stef suddenly notices that the lights are on. He becomes suspicious. In a quiet moment he surreptitiously fumbles in her handbag and finds her identity card. Surprise, surprise – Julie is Theo’s daughter!Stef asks Julie to help him organise a house-warming party. Theo is delighted. A party is an ideal opportunity for him to make a fool of Stef and describes to him in relished detail how he intends to spread terror among the guests. On the evening of the party, however, no guests arrive, except for Julie!  Nor were any invited, because Stef had noticed on Julie’s identity card that it was today Julie’s birthday and the two of them had decided to spend it together. He grins in satisfaction at Theo stood at the door with a sheepish look on his face: the poor chap had forgotten his daughter’s birthday!

Julie starts to talk about her mother, Theo’s wife, and explains that she had died in a car crash. Theo never got over her death and became virtually a “human“ wreck due to his excessive consumption of alcohol and anti-depressives. In a sad voice, Julie goes on to tell Stef that she had been neglected by her father and that he had eventually died from an electric shock sparked off by an old radio set, which was found submerged with Theo in the bathtub. Julie is distraught by the thought that Theo might well have committed suicide because she had not loved her mother enough and had not loved her father at all!

Julie drinks a little too much and Stef carries her upstairs to bed. Returning to the dining room, he questions Theo, who reluctantly admits that in a moment of drunken remorse at the loss of his wife,  he had committed suicide with the help of the radio set. With that cleared up, they put their heads together and deliberate on how they could make Julie happy. Together, they hit on the idea of a farewell letter, which Stef will write into the computer and say it was found by chance in a vase.The next morning, Stef throws open the terrace doors to find himself looking into the nozzle of a pistol. A masked man threatens him. Theo advises Stef to stay quiet and do what the robber says. At this precarious moment, Nathalie, Stef’s estranged wife, appears on the scene with important news for him. She is interrupted, however, by Julie who hurries down the stairs and embraces the robber, to the astonishment of everyone present. Gradually, the situation is clarified. The robber is actually Julie’s friend Robin, who thought Julie had spent the night with Stef. Robin is a bit of a clumsy fellow and stumbles over the vase. Julie picks up the farewell letter.

Stef has composed quite a different letter from the one he had discussed with Theo. The letter is actually adressed to Theo’s dead wife and reads like an extract from Theo’s personal diary. In the letter, Theo/Stef writes: “I’m really ashamed at having neglected Julie and I’ll start taking care of her immediately. But first I’ll take a bath and tidy himself up“! The letter proves to Julie that her father was really a good man and could not have committed suicide. She goes out into the garden and sits on a bench to think about him. Theo follows Julie out and put his hand on hers. Of course, Julie can not feel his hand!

Natalie announces to Stef that she wants to make a fresh start with him. She is pregnant and before leaving tells him he can come back and live with her. Stef goes over to Theo and they part as in friendship. Before disappearing, Theo tells Stef that the curse on the villa is now his problem. Stef smiles politely and begins tidying the place up. He is soon satisfied that everything is in place and is about to sit down and relax when he hears music coming from the lounge. He finds that the music is coming from the radio, but the plug is lying on the floor! Stef merely smiles again, starts to hum the melody and leaves the room. The electric shock Stef received at the very beginning of this story was FATAL!

 

Languages: german / englisch