Wednesday, March 23, 2022

ON THE 3RD DAY (2021) Blu-ray Review

On the 3rd Day (2021) d. Daniel de la Vega (Argentina) (85 min)

Enrique (Gerardo Romero) answers a mysterious phone call, telling him to bring a certain item to Santa Cruz, with it “hopefully being the last time.” Elsewhere, Cecilia Amato (Mariana Anghileri) and her son Martín (Octavio Belmonte) are taking a spontaneous road trip. These two disparate individuals literally collide one fateful night, with Cecilia waking up three days later in a deserted building with no idea how she got there and, further, no idea where Martin is. When a kindly service station agent brings her to hospital, she immediately falls under suspicion of having done harm to her child by the local police (Osvaldo Ventura) as well as her ex Fernando (Diego Cremonesi). But her doctor, Hernan Pastori (Lautaro Delgado), believes there’s something unusual about Cecilia and tracks her down after she escapes the house of healing, offering to help her remember what transpired and hopefully recover her boy.

Based on his book 3 Dias, Gonzalo Ventura co-wrote the script with Alberto Fasce, uniting with director Vega to spin a rather unusual mystery, one rife with unreliable narrators and numerous plot twists that are bound to toy with viewer alliances. We’re never quite sure who to trust or root for at any given moment, and that is part of what gives On the 3rd Day its particular brand of juice.

We know something happened to Martin following the car crash that opens the film, and we have a strong sense that whatever was in the long box (oh, who are we kidding, it’s a coffin, and a heavily chained-up one at that) that Enrique was transporting has something to do with the child’s disappearance. Beyond that, however, we are woefully in the dark, attempting to learn – along with all of the other characters – what really occurred that fateful night and what it has to do with Enrique’s assignment.

While most of the mysteries play out in satisfying fashion, a few question marks remain. The aged Enrique spends a goodly amount of time interrogating, torturing, and eventually murdering the only eyewitness to the highway incident, Lucia (Veronica Intile), which takes the story into a queasy and unpleasant (mis)direction for a spell, before eventually veering back around to explain the aged avenger’s motivations. Meanwhile, our ostensible protagonist, Cecilia, swings wildly between frantic worry and cold-eyed determination, so it’s understandable why our benevolent doctor is so eager to figure out what happened, although how it gets so personal so quickly is a bit of a head-scratcher.

Frustratingly, the new Blu-ray from Shudder and Shout! Factory only comes with a dubbed English vocal track rather than the original Spanish language, a choice that feels like a slap in the face to both the viewer and Vega’s cast. How hard could it have been to have both tracks on the disc, especially since the English subtitles are part of the package? It’s not that the ADR work is bad; it’s just an unnecessary distraction when the option could easily have been extended for each person to make on their own, especially as a physical media release in this day and age.

That said, even in this presentation, Anghileri and Romero anchor the piece with their strong and charismatic turns and are surrounded by an excellent supporting cast. Vega tosses out a number of nods to other genre efforts (Don’t Look Now, in particular), and his cinematographer, Mariano Suarez (who also lensed 2017’s superbly chilling Terrified), delivers some haunting visuals and unnerving atmosphere. Luciano Onetti (aka one half of The Onetti Brothers, who directed Francesca and What the Waters Left Behind) leans a little heavy on the aural jump scares in the first half before finally settling into a more relaxed and brooding sonic landscape.

This mishmash of familiar elements are pleasingly spun into something that feels fresh by the final reel (all the way up and through the final credits, so don’t reach for the remote right away). While not quite ranking as “must see” material, horror fans should find plenty to enjoy here.

On the 3rd Day will be available on a supplement-free DVD or Blu-ray from Shout! Factory on March 29 (and presumably streaming on Shudder shortly thereafter) and can be ordered HERE:


No comments:

Post a Comment