On the 3rd Day - New Release Review
Director: Daniel de la Vega
Starring: Mariana Anghileri, Federico Aimetta, Octavio Belmonte, Susana Beltran
Written by: Alberto Fasce, Gonzalo Ventura
Produced by: Daniel de la Vega, Néstor Sanchez Sotelo
Cinematography by: Mariano Suárez
Original Score by: Luciano Onetti
Three days after a horrific car accident an amnesia ridden mother goes on a journey to find her son that takes her down a dark rabbit hole which culminates in a confrontation with the religious zealot responsible for the accident.
'On the 3rd Day' is one of those films where it is difficult to talk about given the different twists and turns it takes but for fans of the genre these twists are apparent within the first few minutes of the film as Cecilia (played by Mariana Anghileri) tries to find out what has happened to her son. Despite this predictability there is still much to enjoy with the film.
Directed by Argentinian filmmaker Daniel de la Vega, who is no stranger to the genre with films like 'White Coffin' and 'Dead End', 'On the 3rd Day' draws its influences from different subsections of the genre. In short the film can be described as being like 'Don’t Look Now' directed by an Italian horror filmmaker like Lucio Fulci (for the best and worst reasons possible) with a nice dolap of Catholicism.
Firstly the English dubbing proves to be distracting as it is poorly handled and it would better serve the viewer to present the film with subtitles so they aren’t pulled out of the action as much. Another issue is that the film lacks coherence as characters make illogical decisions (which are at times unintentionally laughable) that like the dubbing pulls you out of the central mystery.
These problems aside, it is still difficult to invest in the central mystery as the characters aren’t well developed as they stumble from one scenario to another on their journey. That isn’t a reflection on the performances though as Mariana Anghileri is very good in the central role of Cecilia, whose subtle changes to her demeanour as the mystery unravels bring a sinister sense of glee to the film. Gerardo Romano is just as good as the world weary Padre Enrique whose burden of duty shines through in his performance as he reluctantly carries out some gruesome acts for his version of the greater good.
For a film that has the zippy runtime of 85 minutes it takes its time to get going with the slow burn of the mystery taking centre stage for the majority of the film, which can be laborious at times but only manages to maintain interest from some inventive transition shots that would make Sam Raimi proud. It bursts to life when Cecilia is taken to hypnotist Noriega (played by Osmar Núñez) to unravel the mystery of her missing son. It is here Daniel de la Vega flexes his creative muscles utilising dolly zooms to great effect as Cecilia is forced to dig through her psyche to figure out what happened. The manner in which these sequences are handled are reminiscent of the “Sunken Place” from 'Get Out' but aren’t as effective given the trundling build up.
The look to this scene and the film in general is one of its strong points as cinematographer Mariano Suárez adds a gothic flavour to the film with his use of shadows and drawing focus to particular areas like Noriega’s eyes during Cecilia’s hypnotism. However his work is somewhat hindered by the overbearing score from Luciano Onetti whose music detracts from the atmosphere by telling the audience when they should be scared rather than letting the action flow.
Whilst the ending is predictable, the bloody path it carves en route is what makes the film relatively entertaining to watch. It is a shame that so many elements to the film are at odds with each other making the tone scattershot. The central performances hold the film together but perhaps a more developed script could have accentuated their efforts further. In the end it feels like a missed opportunity but it is an admirable effort all the same.
- Joseph McElroy
'On the 3rd Day' premieres on Shudder July 7th