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ON THE 3RD DAY (2021))

Directed by Daniel de la Vega.
Written by Alberto Fasce, Gonzalo Ventura.
Starring Mariana Anghileri, Octavio Belmonte, Gerardo Romano, Susana Beltrán, Federico Aimetta, Arturo Bonín, Sergio Boris, Diego Cremonesi, Lautaro Delgado, Mathias Domizi, Pochi Ducasse, Nicolás Galvagno, Verónica Intile, Osmar Núñez, Rodolfo Ranni, Osvaldo Santoro

A woman named Cecilia (Mariana Anghileri) and her son Martin (Octavio Belmonte) are driving down a lonely road. On the opposite end is a strange man named Enrique (Gerardo Romano) gets an ominous call in the middle of the night, asking him to transport a large crate to an undisclosed location. When both drivers are distracted by a hitchhiker, the two cars hit each other. Cecilia awakens three days later not knowing what has happened and spends the rest of the movie looking for her son and trying to piece together what happened in those three days.

ON THE 3RD DAY hit me at the right time. I had watched some stylistically and creatively bereft films and when I popped this one in my player, I found myself enthralled with it from beginning to end. This Argentinian film encapsulates that special Giallo feel exquisitely, incorporating a mystery-filled plot, gorgeous visuals, grisly acts, bumbling investigators, and a vivid color palette like the masters of the subgenre have done before it. Yes, it is most likely Daniel de la Vega has done his Giallo homework. There are shades of everything from SUSPIRIA to DON’T LOOK NOW to NOSFERATU to BLOOD AND BLACK LACE, and . These are classics in horror and Giallo and I know bringing them up in the same sentence as ON THE 3RD DAY will offend some, but these are the films I thought of while watching this wonderful little movie.

What makes this whole thing work is that we are trying to uncover the mystery along with our lead Cecilia, who finds herself running in circles in search of her son. She seems to be remembering snippets, mostly due to a fantastic hypnosis sequence where she finds herself on the doorstep of a mesmerist. This scene occurs in the middle of ON THE 3RD DAY and it was right about the time where I recognized this to be the truly intriguing film that it turned out to be. It’s an enthralling scene where the lights go out save for Cecilia in a chair and the mesmerist’s hypnotizing glare is highlighted against the darkness.

But even down to costuming, there is a whole lot of retro-Giallo goodness in ON THE 3RD DAY. Cecilia’s vividly colored yellow coat and bright red shirt and Martin’s red slicker are reminiscent of films like DON’T LOOK NOW and ALICE SWEET ALICE, among others. The similarities are undeniable as Martin’s ghostly form can be seen walking in the periphery and through mirror images. The mirrored image is crucial in this film, representing a world that only Cecilia can see and holding secrets tied to her missing days and her memory lapse.

By the halfway point, I kind of figured out parts of what was going on, but I still loved the ride to the end of ON THE 3RD DAY. The climax of the film, where Cecilia finally remembers those three days and the harrowing things that occurred during them really do hit hard. The dramatic collision of all of the moving parts of this movie clang together in a beautifully, violent disaster. Mariana Anghileri’s Cecilia runs the gamut of emotions, taking her through the grief process as she realizes that her life will never be the same. For most of the movie, she is running around in this timeless, dream-like landscape without a clue, yet I found myself empathetic with her peril and along for the ride all the way. The other standout is the grizzled Enrique (Gerardo Romano) who reminds me of the priest from last year’s HBO religious horror series 30 COINS. He’s neither good or bad guy, but manages to be both as this complex story unfolds.

I’m going to be watching ON THE 3RD DAY again soon, but my initial reaction when the wonderful film came to an end was “wow.” The film is emotionally jarring. The effects are top notch. There are shocks and twists galore. This isn’t a Hollywood movie at all. It’s a movie that honors the rich past of Italian cinema and tells a terrifying tale through that lens. It’s a movie that is truly unique and must be watched all the way through the credits, as more surprises await you there. I’d love to hear what you guys think of ON THE 3RD DAY and recommend it, wholeheartedly.

Check out the trailer here!!