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IFI Horrorthon 2016 Review - WHITE COFFIN

Three mothers are forced to compete to save their stolen children.






Review by Eric Hillis (@hilliseric)

Directed by: Daniel de la Vega

Starring: Julieta Cardinali, Rafael Ferro, Eleonora Wexler, Fiorela Duranda, VerĂ³nica Intile



De la Vega delivers the sort of "what the hell are we watching?" grindhouse experience that's all too rare in modern genre cinema. While you may find yourself asking a lot of questions after the movie and receiving no satisfying answers, in the moment it's undeniably a bloody rollercoaster ride.



Home to some of the world's longest roads, Argentina is an ideal setting for the sort of backwoods horror we usually associate with the US. You know the sort of thing - a city slicker on a road trip finds themselves running afoul of locals in a community that seems to exist outside of civilisation and governed by its own rules.



In Daniel De la Vega's bonkers White Coffin, the slicker in question is Virginia (Julieta Cardinali), travelling through a remote part of Argentina with her young daughter Rebecca. While at a rest stop, Rebecca vanishes, and spotting a suspicious pickup truck leaving the stop, Virginia hops in her car and takes off in pursuit. Catching up with the truck, Virginia spots her daughter peering out of the vehicle's rear window, but before she can try anything else, an ambulance rams her off the road, killing her in the resulting crash.

Initially it seems De la Vega is pulling the Psycho trick of killing off the character we've been led to believe is the film's main protagonist, but when Virginia is brought back from the dead by a mysterious man (Rafael Ferro), we quickly realise this is a movie where anything can happen.



Virginia is informed of the only way to save Rebecca, by capturing a white coffin, hidden somewhere in the local community. Setting off to retrieve the casket, she finds she is not alone; two other mothers are also after the white coffin, attempting to save their own stolen children. There is only one white coffin however, which means only the mother who retrieves it gets to save their child.

The idea of exploring the extreme narcissism of parenthood is a novel one. White Coffin poses the question of whether you would sacrifice your child's life to save someone else's. Of course, it's one with a simple answer - every parent would save their kid and worry about the guilt afterwards. Unfortunately, White Coffin isn't really equipped to explore this idea in any real depth over its extremely limited 70 minute run time. Pitting three manic mothers against each other is a concept that should fill an entire movie, but by the time it's brought into play here, there's very little of the movie left to play out.



That said, De la Vega packs a lot into 70 minutes, delivering the sort of "what the hell are we watching?" grindhouse experience that's all too rare in modern genre cinema (much of it plays like a runaway segment of Argentine anthology Wild Tales). While you may find yourself asking a lot of questions after the movie and receiving no satisfying answers, in the moment it's undeniably a bloody rollercoaster ride. A remake might provide more focus and narrative satisfaction, but would it be half as much fun?






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