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  Funeral Home, The The Law Of The Coffin
Year: 2020
Director: Mauro Ivan Ojeda
Stars: Luis Machin, Celeste Gerez, Camila Vaccarini, Graciela Bonomi, Susana Varela
Genre: HorrorBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: At this Argentine funeral home, trouble is afoot, as with all those dead bodies being processed, it cannot help but be haunted. Bernardo (Luis Machin) should be used to this by now, as should his wife Estela (Celeste Gerez) and his stepdaughter Irina (Camila Vaccarini), but somehow a haunting is not something you ever get used to, not least because the spirits infest the bathroom and make it difficult to perform their ablutions. Irina, for one, has been trying to persuade her mother to allow her to leave and go and live with her grandmother (Graciela Bonomi), though Estela and Bernardo are resistant to her going. So it is that the more the resentment simmers between the three of them, the more the spirits feast on their pain - planning something terrible.

South America was not immune to the charms (or otherwise) of the haunted house movie, and The Funeral Home was the debut both as writer and director for Mauro Ivan Ojeda who appeared to have ambitions to follow a certain trend rather than break new ground. That said, he did put an intriguing spin on this well-worn premise that rendered it recognisably non-Hollywood and far more redolent of the flavour of its homeland, conjuring up its ghosts as entities allied to their place of origin than simply aping whatever Blumhouse had been releasing in recent years. With that in mind, this was a piece with definite character and atmosphere that could grow enjoyably freaky the further it went on in terrorising its central, troubled family unit, even to the point of no return.

Originally known as La Funeraria, it may have had a problem in that it was trying to make its mark in a crowded field, and you may not be entirely convinced that Ojeda succeeded in that, despite the manner in which he wrapped this up which was either very brave or very foolhardy depending on where you stood on that sort of experimentation within a genre that was often very strict in what it allowed in its parameters. Though we were talking about a sequence that lasted a couple of minutes, if that, it could be a deal-breaker for at least part of the audience who were not interested in a note of poetry in their horror flicks, and even if you did go along with it you might be inclined to agree with those who were unsure of its efficacy. Maybe the issue was that it appeared out of the blue, with nothing to prepare you for it.

Before that, however, this was a pretty strong item, mixing very South American melodrama with big scares and unsettling imagery, though the interest in interrupting its characters while they relieved themselves was a strange, if novel, development in the format. Bernardo has arranged for a Portaloo to be placed in the garden so they don't need to use the bathroom in the house, though Irina is forced to use a bucket in her bedroom, one example of how impractical it is to be pestered by a mysterious presence intent on watching your every move, but also could be plotting your demise. At first we wonder if the family are putting up with this because the spirits are essentially benevolent, but nope, and the blood soaked finale took care of that notion with some intensity. Aside from how it ended, if there was a flaw here it was that once you had the measure of it, maybe there were no real surprises, but bearing that in mind it was a picture with a lot of style, even taking in its eccentricities. Music by Jeremias Smith.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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