If the title On the 3rd Day makes you think of the Apostles' Creed, then you're prepared for what the movie has to offer. One of the characters is a priest, and while he's not the main player here, his function in the story is key. This Argentinian chiller, which had its international premiere at the 2021 Fantasia International Film Festival, is a gloriously twisted treat. In fact, movies like this are why I cover Fantasia every year. There's always the thrill of discovering something bold and exciting.
The story revolves around a car accident. Cecilia (Mariana Anghileri) passes a stranded female motorist, then is t-boned by a truck with a coffin in the back. She wakes up three days later with no memory of what happened. It turns out that, following the wreck, her young son – who was in the back seat – went missing, as did the stranded motorist. Whatever was in the coffin vanished too. Even her ex-husband disappears, and he wasn't part of the accident.
In poking around, Cecilia comes to discover that police are looking for a killer on the loose. Then she crosses paths with the priest, who has a pretty good idea of what's been going on. What the priest knows and how it ties into Cecilia's situation are matters not to be divulged. But again, the words “on the third day” are followed in the Apostles' Creed by “He rose again,” so you can correctly surmise that some sort of dead-but-not-dead element is at play.
The central mystery of the movie is captivating. We don't know until the very end how the pieces tie together. Trying to assemble each new clue is great fun, and the implications of the big reveal are chilling. On the 3rd Day also has a lot of sublimely bloody mayhem leading up to the finale. Not for the squeamish, the film includes a couple gory kills, as well as a scene involving a body having acid poured all over it. Such sequences are not for cheap thrills, they're to suggest the ghastly scenario Cecilia finds herself in. The story needs that material to create the ominous vibe.
Director Daniel de le Vega and cinematographer Mariano Suarez infuse the picture with stunningly-crafted visuals, a number of which were clearly inspired by the works of the Gaillo masters. Color and lighting techniques are utilized to highlight specific images in a creepy-yet-stylish manner. Thrust into that, Mariana Anghileri gives a performance that beautifully expresses the terror and confusion Cecilia goes through. She's definitely the core of the film.
On the 3rd Day is a mesmerizing horror movie, both visually and in terms of the story it tells. It's one of the biggest discoveries of Fantasia 2021.
On the 3rd Day is unrated, but contains adult language and graphic violence. The running time is 1 hour and 27 minutes.