A car accident leaves Cecilia dazed and confused as she wakes up in an abandoned warehouse unsure of what crashed into her and how she arrived inside the vacant area. Her son, Martin, who was also in the car with her, is missing. Plagued by disturbing visions being reflected through mirrors, an agitated and frightened Cecilia escapes the hospital and with the help of an empathetic, young doctor, they employ a hypnotist to extract her post-accident whereabouts and possibly locate her missing son, but what is unleashed through hypnosis is more terrifying than imagined. Meanwhile, the other crash victim, a hermit priest, sets forth to reclaim an ancient and deadly Catholic secret lost in the wreckage and will stop at nothing and do anything to get it. When Cecilia and the priest converge, the truth of what really happened will be profanely revealed with spilled blood.
“On the 3rd Day” is one of those movies that needs tiptoeing around when reviewing it to not divulge spoilers. The Daniel de la Vega mystifying horror hails from Argentina and is penned by the screenwriting duo of Alberto Fasce and Gonzalo Ventura, the latter of whom authored the 2017 novel “3 Days” (3 días) in which the film is adapted from. What can be divulged about Vega’s film is that context revolves around a classical monster fans know and revere to be a staple of horror iconography but “The Chronicle of the Raven” director ventures deep into a disoriented mother’s puzzling gap in time, working backwards through her mind’s murky-dirty window to then make the picture wretchedly clear. “On the 3rd Day” blends abusive relationships and ugly divorce with traditional and appreciable genre tropes to fully convey that those who are to be loved and protected the most out of dissolving unions are those who are ultimately the ones hurt most of all. Del Toro Films’ Néstor Sánchez Sotelo, who produced Vega’s 2016 supernatural thriller, “White Coffin,” produces alongside the filmmaker in a coproduction with Furia Films.
“On the 3rd Day” pursues the storyline of two principal characters: Cecilia, a mother recouping her memories after a shocking car accident, and Padre Enrique, an off-the-grid priest guarding the Catholic Church’s dark secret. The Buenos Airos-native actress Mariana Anghileri becomes lost in Cecilia’s constant struggle against the forces guiding her down a subconscious alter ego path that’s unveiled at the tale-telling end while at the opposite end of the spectrum, Padre Enrique, played with a feverously somber faith from Gerardo Romano, who also had a role in Daniel de la Vega’s “Necrophobia 3D,” knows exactly what’s at stake after accidently crashing his truck into Cecilia’s car and the displaced crate he was hauling to Santa Cruz at the behest of the church opens and sets loose an unspeakable evil to lurk. Romano is purposeful in Padre Enrique’s mission with a scrap of uncertainty splayed on his face, but never discloses a sense of true concern or panic-stricken hopelessness which makes the character refreshing in his confidence rather than tense in his unwavering assurance. The same can’t be said about Cecilia who suffers a continuous reeling over the missing gap of time. However, locating the sincerity in Anghileri is difficult as the actress doesn’t convey that primo motherly instinct of a sudden and violent detachment from her child properly. Anghileri wonderfully denotes an obfuscate posture but condoning her as a loving parent just doesn’t seem justifiable, even in the finale that is while still impactfully poignant, misses utterly gutting audiences with Anghileri’s lukewarm care. “On the 3rd Day” rounds out the cast with Osvaldo Santoro, Mathias Domizi, Lautaro Delgado, Susana Beltrán, Octavio Belmonte, Sergio Boris, Rodolfo Ranni and Verónica Intile.
“On the 3rd Day’s” first act didn’t fill me with confidence. I was about as lost as Cecilia waking up disoriented in a vacant warehouse. Vega jumbles sequential order and interjects flashbacks into an already copiously edited narrative with a slither of surrealism to the style of early David Lynch or Terry Gilliam. We’re thrust into Cecilia’s post-crash nightmare, witnessing irrational visions through standing oval mirrors and departing characters who don’t come out alive on the other end of meeting her. Vega seldomly gives into definitive trope context as he reshapes with miniscule precision what we already know traditionally about this particular monster into seemingly something new. By the second and third act, Vega begins whittling down obscuring barriers, leaving more dead bodies in Cecilia’s wake although we definitely don’t ever see death by her hand as it’s always just implied between before and after cuts. The script also pieces in more clues with Padre Enrique’s razing of collateral damage stained with the blood that is not their own. I’m enamored by this phrase that embodies a mystery on the tip of the tongue hungry to be solved and as the padre proceeds to liquate an innocent bystander because of clues he only recognizes, his character, however vilified Vega makes him out to be, becomes far more interesting in a role as a priest with a less than a pastoral posture and as a persistent caretaker of an ominous being, cleaning up after whoopsie daisy incident in losing his oversight. What “On the 3rd Day” boils down to, thematically, is when the sight is lost on what is most important, there becomes an indefinite loss that can’t be put back safely into the box. Between Cecilia’s radical escape from an ex-husband and Padre Enrique’s hastiness, they both take their eye of the prize and ultimately suffer loss in the worst possible way, turning “On the 3rd Day” into a distilled gaslight of unquestionable terror.
Hopefully, to this point, I have not spoiled Daniel del la Vega’s “On the 3rd Day’s” elusive revelation. One of the only ways to see what happens, to see the shocking ending, check out “On the 3rd Day’s” on Blu-ray from Scream Factory arriving Tuesday, March 29th! The AVC encoded, region A Blu-ray is presented in 1080p high definition and in a widescreen 2.39:1 aspect ratio. Mariano Suárez carries over the tenebrous “Terrified” low lighting to provide a tonal dreary environment akin to noir, which “On the 3rd Day” fashions itself. Skin tones, practical effect textures, and even the retro-esque compositional special effect flush out nicely. What’s a little disappointing is the forced English dub track on both the audio options: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and 2.0 stereo. With no alternative languages to opt into, even a native Spanish track, the English dub is obvious desynched between the speech and delivery. The ambient range and depth fairs better with adequate detail and an Italiano–mysterio soundtrack by Luciano Onetti, who worked on the modern giallo films “Francesca” and “Abrakadabra” with brother and co-founder of Black Mandala productions, Nicolás Onetti. English subtitles are available. The 85-minute film releases not rated and without extras other than the snapper case sheathed inside an image redundant cardboard slipcover and a wide still capture on the reverse Blu-ray cover. “On the 3rd Day” starts messy but ends in a gothic aghast that sets the seal on Daniel de la Vega’s slow burn evolution as a genre filmmaker.