Connect with us

Film

On the Third Day Goes Far on Style and Atmosphere

On the Third Day

Fantasia 2021: On the Third Day Review

In the dead of night, a woman races along a lonely road, desperately trying to get her son as far away from her abusive ex-husband as she can. Her attention slips from the road ahead for just a moment too long, and she crashes into an oncoming car and loses consciousness. Three days later she awakens in a hospital, her son missing and her memories of that night fractured. She sets out to find her son and discover the truth of what happened, though the truth is darker than she’s prepared for. Daniel de la Vega’s spooky, suspenseful and visually enchanting On the Third Day is just the latest in a long line of excellent South American horror films, a wonderfully atmospheric effort that comes strongly recommended for horror fans.

Images courtesy of Fantasia International Film Festival

While the film’s climax definitely needs a mention, the big thing it has going for it is atmosphere. Though devoid of anything as overt as a crumbling castle or swooping bats, the film conjures a distinctly gothic atmosphere through things as simple as lighting, camera work and sound. It’s wonderfully stylish at times, employing old-school touches like sudden zooms and superimposed imagery, making it reminiscent of classic works like those of Jacques Tournier or Mario Bava. There’s also a nice Don’t Look Now homage, which is always welcome. Keeping to a slow-burn pace, the film slowly ramps up to its finale and gradually ramps up the horror elements as it goes, ratcheting up the suspense an inch at a time.

Then the third act happens, and this is either where the film will lose people or suddenly pique their interest. Without getting into spoilers, the true nature of the circumstances surrounding the crash that flipped heroine Cecilia’s life upside down does much the same for the film. What was previously hinted at, is suddenly revealed and the pace dramatically quickens in the closing scenes. Blood starts flying in greater abundance, and the horror that was creeping just out of frame suddenly takes center stage. To some, this could feel like a betrayal of the subtle(ish), slow-burn atmosphere the film was building up until this point. To others, it could be the point at which the film finally pays off on that buildup. Whether you’re disappointed that the film suddenly became more obvious or happy that things finally started to happen depends on your patience levels and just how much you get out of atmosphere alone. 

On the Third Day
Images courtesy of Fantasia International Film Festival

Because it must be said, while the film definitely has style and atmosphere, the rest is really just ‘ok’. Protagonist Cecilia is fine, but one-note, and the helpful doctor and grizzled detective who are aiding and pursuing her respectively, feel fairly flat and one-dimensional. There’s not a ton in the way of subtext or deeper meaning, and though serviceable, the special effects aren’t much to write home about. The film is carried mostly by visuals, ambiance and the sudden acceleration that occurs in the final act – which again may not be everyone’s cup of tea.


That being said, On the Third Day is a really fun time for those looking for a horror film that evokes some of the best of its predecessors in the genre, and has just enough bite to stand alongside its contemporaries.

The 25th edition of the Fantasia International Film Festival will run from August 5 – 25, 2021. Check out our full coverage here.

Written By

Beginning as a co-host on a Concordia TV film show before moving on to chief film nerd at Forgetthebox.net, Thomas is now bringing his knowledge of pop-culture nerdery to Sordid Cinema. Thomas is a Montrealer born and raised, and an avid consumer of all things pop-cultural and nerdy. While his first love is film, he has also been known to dabble in comics, videogames, television, anime and more. You can support his various works on his Patreon, at https://www.patreon.com/TomWatchesMovies You can also like the Tom Watches Movies Facebook page to see all his work on Goombastomp and elsewhere.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Facebook

Trending

Michael Jackson’s Thriller Michael Jackson’s Thriller

The Making of Michael Jackson’s Thriller, the Best Music Video Ever Made

TV

BEST AEW PPV Matches 2022 BEST AEW PPV Matches 2022

Best AEW PPV Matches of 2022

Wrestling

Godzilla vs. Gigan Rex Godzilla vs. Gigan Rex

Godzilla vs. Gigan Rex Review: One of Godzilla’s Finest Recent Outings

Culture

Lost Bullet 2 Lost Bullet 2

Lost Bullet 2 Delivers The Finest of Vehicular Mayhem

Film

Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio movie review Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio movie review

Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio Breathes New Life into the Classic Fable

Culture

Streaming services Streaming services

Streaming Wars and Streaming Headaches

Culture

Prince Namor The Submariner Prince Namor The Submariner

Who is Prince Namor, the Sub-Mariner in Wakanda Forever?

Culture

A Dickensian Disaster: Spirited is a Practically Unwatchable Take on A Christmas Carol

Film

Montreal Screwjob Montreal Screwjob

25 Years of the Montreal Screwjob, the Moment that Changed Everything in Wrestling 

Culture

Black Panther Black Panther

Recasting the Deceased: T’Challa, Dumbledore, and the Worst Hollywood Problem

Culture

2022 Box office saviours 2022 Box office saviours

Why Hope Still Exists at the Box Office

Features

She Said movie review She Said movie review

She Said is a Deft but Unremarkable Investigative Procedural

Culture

Malcolm X Malcolm X

Malcolm X is Spike Lee’s Magnum Opus

Film

Wreck-It-Ralph Wreck-It-Ralph

10 Years Ago, Wreck-It-Ralph Sent a Villain On The Hero’s Journey

Culture

30 Years Ago, The Death of Superman Breathed New Life Into The Character 30 Years Ago, The Death of Superman Breathed New Life Into The Character

‘The Death of Superman’ Breathed New Life Into The Character

Culture

Say Hey, Willie Mays Say Hey, Willie Mays

Say Hey, Willie Mays is a Conventional but Wonderful Look at the Baseball Legend

Film

Connect