Fantasia 2021 Review: ON THE 3RD DAY, The Horror Thriller With a Final Act For The Ages
One dark night, Cecilia and her son Martín are involved in a car accident on a lonely road. Three days later, Cecilia wakes up in a barn, her son is nowhere to be found. Cecilia does not remember what happened during those three days. With pressure mounting from her ex, a local detective, and her own questionable sanity Cecilia accepts the help of her doctor. Perhaps he can help her uncover the truth of what happened that night on that dark lonely road.
On the 3rd Day starts out as a tale of two people. On one side Cecilia is trying to uncover the mystery of her son’s disappearance and her missing three days. Her husband Fernando is a concealed menace, manipulating their broken marriage and her fears of him to get more time with Martin. In the short time that actor Diego Cremonesi is on screen he reeks of so much animosity and hate, it could be its own horror film. There are more common motivators in place as well. There is the veteran cop who is just doing his job, always suspicious of Cecilia and her missing three days. Her doctor, Hernan, of course joins her in her cause when he sees what the pressure from the police and her husband is doing to her.
Here is where the thriller side of the story takes place, delivered in a sort of soft, quasi giallo kind of way. Director Daniel De la Vega employs the traditional use of noise scares to get a rise out of his viewers. Mirrors also play a part in this story and he makes good use of them throughout the build towards the film’s conclusion. We cannot help but wonder if Cecilia’s ‘sightings’ of Martin and his red coat wasn’t a nod to the classic horror thriller, Don’t Look Now.
Vega needed a strong female lead, the central character in his story, and he got that in Mariana Anghileri. She is great as Cecilia, a mother bearing the torment of her missing child, a wife enduring the torture from her manipulative husband and doubts from the authorities, she easily carries the story. All the while she is trying to uncover the mystery of the missing three days and she will go to never before imagined lengths to find out what happened to her and her son. The relationship with her husband is genuinely infuriating and her frustration with authority figures is palpable.
On the other side is the mysterious Enrique. He too was travelling that road at night, transporting something in the back of his truck to the city. Here is where the horror side of the story takes place. His cargo is lost but he takes someone else off of that road that night, takes them back to his, well, lair, for lack of a better term. He will do some manner of horrific things to this hostage and others who have come in contact with Cecilia before he turns his attention to her and cleaning up that final loose end. The two storylines are of good, decent horror and thriller quality. There is plenty for everyone to get their kicks.
But then there is the final act.
Here is where the two story lines converge and On the 3rd Day takes a wild turn into Crazy Town. The clues are there at the beginning; keen and experienced eyes and ears know what to listen and look for. Then it all makes sense, or, it becomes a bit clearer once it happens. Now, we dare not ruin the surprise for everyone by saying what it is but it will rank up there as one of 2021’s What The Hell? moments of the year. We do think it goes too far in the extra credits scene. A bit of the old, “Okay, you’ve made your point, now you’re just saying, ‘To hell with it, we’ve gone this far…’”.
The novelty of On the 3rd Day is the change up as it goes into the final act. Taking a page from the book of cinema that reads, ‘It’s so crazy it might just work’, the success of the film from then on depends on the reception of its audience of this wild turn of events. To that point it is a good horror thriller, delivering good scares and chills. It is all anchored on a great performance from Vega’s lead, Mariana Anghileri.