I have to be honest, I wasn’t all that interested in On the 3rd Day when I first heard about it. It didn’t really sound like my kind of horror, so I was planning on skipping it. But as I was waiting to receive screeners for the Fantasia movies I was interested in, I decided to check this one out. I figured it couldn’t hurt, and I thought there was an outside chance I might even mildly enjoy it. But I was so wrong. I didn’t just enjoy this movie. I absolutely loved it. It’s one of the best horror films I’ve seen all year, and I can’t wait until more people get a chance to watch it.
Directed by Daniel De la Vega, On the 3rd Day stars Moro Anghileri, Diego Cremonesi, Lautaro Delgado Tymruk, Osmar Nuñez, Gerardo Romano, and Osvaldo Santoro. It follows two characters who briefly meet up in the beginning, and after going their separate ways for the majority of the film, their paths converge once more in an absolutely shocking finale. On the one hand, we have Cecilia, a woman who one day decides to go on a little trip with her young son Martín. Along the way, they get into a terrible car accident, and she wakes up in a daze three days later. She can’t remember what happened after the impact or where her son is, so she goes looking for him after she recovers her strength.
On the other side of the story, there’s a strange man who has to transport some mysterious cargo. On the way to his destination, he crashes into Cecilia’s car, and the accident seems to hurt an innocent bystander as well. He kidnaps this bystander and takes her to his house, and he performs some strange, exorcism-like religious rituals on her. You don’t know what exactly his deal is, but you’re sure it’s nothing good.
Like I said before, I initially wasn’t all that interested in On the 3rd Day, but soon after I pressed play on my screener, I found myself really enjoying it. For starters, the opening scenes with the strange religious man have an almost gothic, haunted house kind of feel, and they’re saturated with a creepy atmosphere that lets you know something sinister is going to take place. You don’t know what it is yet, but you know it can’t be good.
On top of that, this movie also has some pretty strong acting. Admittedly, there are a small handful of moments when it feels like the characters are actors reciting lines rather than real people living their lives, but they’re few and far between. On the whole, everybody plays their parts really well, and I have to give special recognition to Moro Anghiler, the actress who plays Cecilia. She nails the entire range of emotions her character goes through, from grief to fear to something I won’t mention for fear of spoiling the ending, so you buy into Cecilia from the very first time she’s on-screen.
But hands down the best thing about this movie is the mystery. In a certain sense, On the 3rd Day is a pretty simple film. You don’t get much backstory for any of the characters, and there aren’t any significant subplots. Instead, you pretty much just have the two central characters and the mysteries associated with them: what happened to Cecilia and her son, and what is the strange religious man up to?
But in another sense, it’s actually pretty complex. The mysteries associated with these characters have multiple layers, and they grow as the story progresses. The film keeps raising more and more questions, and in the hands of lesser filmmakers, that could’ve been very problematic. There can come a point when you have so many questions and so few answers that you just get frustrated with it, but thankfully that never happens here.
On the 3rd Day paces itself perfectly, raising its new questions quickly enough to keep you intrigued but slowly enough that it never feels like it’s too much. Instead, it draws you deeper and deeper into the story, and you become more invested in it with each passing moment. Then, when you start to get some answers, your jaw will absolutely hit the floor.
I can’t say anything specific about these answers without spoiling the movie, and that’s the last thing in the world I want to do. The explanation of what’s really going on is super cool, so you’re going to want to let it have its full impact on you. All I’ll say is that it’s nothing you’d ever expect, but it makes perfect sense when you think back to everything that came before it. I literally yelled “WHAT?!” multiple times as the film slowly revealed its secrets, and by the time the credits rolled, I was completely satisfied.
Like I said before, I can’t wait until more people watch On the 3rd Day, so if you get a chance to see it, whether it’s at Fantasia or whether it’s sometime later after the film gets picked up by a distributor, do yourself a favor and check it out. It’s a super intriguing mystery that just grows and grows until you’re entirely engrossed in it, and then it gets even better when it pulls back the curtain. Even if you don’t think this sounds like your kind of horror, don’t let that discourage you. It’s so much more than what it appears to be at first, so I highly recommend giving this one a shot. You won’t regret it.
On the 3rd Day is being screened virtually at the Fantasia International Film Festival on August 23 at 7:30 pm EDT.