Movie Review: Amnesiac mother, her missing child, an exorcist and a hypnotist wonder what’s coming “On the 3rd Day”

Argentine filmmaker Daniel De La Vega runs a lot of standard horror tropes through a South American filter in “On the 3rd Day,” a well-mounted by seriously-unsurprising demonic possession thriller.

When the old man, Enrique (Gerardo Romano) takes a call and loads his “cargo” into his ancient Chevy pickup, because a caller summoned him for “your last trip,” we have an idea of what’s up.

It’s a coffin-shaped box, after all.

When a mother (Mariana Anghlileri) packs her little boy (Octavio Belmonte) in the back seat, we can guess what’s coming. Even the “distraction” that causes the collision, this moment when “worlds collide,” seems pro forma.

Cecilia wakes up, injured, in an abandoned house. Her boy is missing. It’s only when she makes it to a hospital that she realizes just how much she doesn’t remember, and who else has gone “missing” from that night.

Over the course of what plays as basically one long night (probably not), Cecilia will see visions of her son, in his red raincoat, in mirrors. She will have nightmares.

And others associated with that night will go missing.

The thin Alberto Fasce and Gonzalo Ventura script manages to find time for odd detours — the abuse Cecilia was fleeing, the old couple at the filling station whom she flees to after “escaping” a house where she wasn’t so much imprisoned, but dumped.

The police are introduced and put “on the case” as the missing persons pile up. But that entire story thread leads nowhere in this unthrilling dubbed-into-English thriller.

A couple of “solutions” present themselves to Cecilia’s plight. Does she need a priest, or a hypnotist (Osmar Núñez) to recall what happened and find her boy? Her doctor Lautaro Delgado) opts for the latter, leading to a mesmerizing and often-off-topic session that adds more clutter than clarity to the film.

Director De La Vega throws some spooky effects and seriously conventional “demon” costumes at this utterly generic story, which might have kept its secrets and worked better had mother Cecilia seemed more frantic or old Enrique seemed more conflicted.

But the film’s serious shortcoming is relying on a mystery that we guess instantly, and not serving up any real frights and stylish touches to distract us from the conclusion we see coming early in the first act.

Rating: Unrated, violence

Cast: Mariana Anghileri, Gerardo Romano, Lautaro Delgado and
Osmar Núñez

Credits: Directed by Daniel De La Vega, scripted by Alberto Fasce and Gonzalo Ventura. A Shout! Factory production on Shudder.

Running time: 1:25

About Roger Moore

Movie Critic, formerly with McClatchy-Tribune News Service, Orlando Sentinel, published in Spin Magazine, The World and now published here, Orlando Magazine, Autoweek Magazine
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