★★★★ out of ★★★★★
Macabre, mysterious, imaginative, and a delight to watch unfold, this Argentinian chiller is must-see viewing for fans of horror cinema.
Directed by Daniel de la Vega
Initial perceptions are rarely what they seem in director Daniel de la Vega’s Argentinian horror film On the 3rd Day (Al Tercer Día). When you think you have the mysteries of this fine feature figured out, you’ll likely find you were going down the wrong path. De la Vega and screenwriters Alberto Fasce and Gonzalo Ventura keep viewers wringing their hands and guessing what’s next, topping things off with a terrific third act in a film that offers stunning visuals and superb performances.
Elderly Enrique (Gerardo Romano), who already looks like he has been through hell as the film opens, receives a call with instructions for him to deliver something for what will, as the caller states, hopefully be the last time. Meanwhile, mother Cecilia (Mariana Anghileri) prepares her young son Martin (Octavio Belmonte) for a car trip. Enrique’s and Cecilia’s vehicles collide; Cecilia comes to in a strange building three days later, with no memory of what happened since the accident and therefore no idea what has happened to her missing son, and Enrique’s actions add further intrigue. Doctor Hernán (Lautaro Delgado) tries to assist Cecilia in figuring out what has happened, as even more people go missing once the action kicks in.
To give away any more plot would be a huge disservice to future viewers of On the 3rd Day, but I can tell you that de la Vega has crafted a film that is a strong contender for my top 10 horror films of this year. The pacing is terrific and the suspense is kept at a taut level. Its visuals are rich, with incredible cinematography from Mariano Suárez and fine work from the practical effects and visual effects departments. Luciano Onetti’s evocative score adds to the proceedings wonderfully.
Anghileri’s standout performance as a distraught, confused mother is amazing, as her character is put through the wringer and the actress nails every nuance that is asked of her. Romano is also sublime in his multifaceted role, and the supporting cast members all turn in top-notch work.
I recommend going into On the 3rd Day as fresh as possible. The film will reward you handsomely for doing so. There’s no shortage of tension and intrigue, and its combination of current filmmaking technology with a seventies Eurohorror vibe is a blast, giving the film a unique look and feel. Make sure to watch through past the end of the credits!
On the 3rd Day screens as part of Montreal’s Fantasia 2021, which runs online from August 5–25, 2021. For more information, visit https://fantasiafestival.com/en/.