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First Look Review - THE FUNERAL HOME

the funeral home review
A family has learned to live with the spirits that haunt their funeral home, but a disturbing new presence has arrived.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Mauro Iván Ojeda

Starring: Luis Machín, Celeste Gerez, Camila Vaccarini, Susana Varela, Hugo Arana

the funeral home poster

The idea of working in a funeral home is enough to creep most of us out, but what if you also lived on the premises? Going to sleep every night knowing there are fresh corpses below your bedroom? Nope, not for me. As macabre as it seems, this is the norm for the families of undertakers across the world, and I guess they just become numb to the idea of sharing their home and workplace with the recently dead.

the funeral home review

Bernardo (Luis Machín), the patriarchal protagonist of writer/director Mauro Iván Ojeda's Argentine chiller The Funeral Home, has been an undertaker so long that he no longer bats an eyelid at his unconventional home and work scenario. That's not so much the case for his wife Estela (Celeste Gerez) and his teenage stepdaughter Irina (Camila Vaccarini) however. Sure, they've become accustomed to the corpses, but this funeral home has another issue - the bodies don't stay dead!


The mortuary and accompanying family home is haunted by multiple spirits, but thanks to the help of a local indigenous shaman (Susana Varela), Bernardo and his family have come to an agreement with the spooks, who have agreed to stay outside the home, save for the indoor bathroom (don't ask!). This pact appears to be broken when Irina spots a ghost in her bedroom - it seems one spook in particular had had enough with the rules.

the funeral home review

The Funeral Home opens with a couple of effectively Spielbergian sequences. The credits appear over a scene in which we track around the family home, in similar fashion to the opening of Poltergeist, and when the ghosts first arrive at night it's in the manner of Close Encounters of the Third Kind, all spectral light blasting under doors and through keyholes. It seems we might be in for a visually compelling horror treat!


Sadly, that promise quickly erodes as The Funeral Home gets bogged down in some decidedly ham-fisted storytelling. There are various backstories doled out in awkward fashion, with characters keeping secrets from one another. But the way Ojeda fills us in on these revelations is poorly thought out, and we're often left scratching our heads because we require info we haven't been made privy to at that point for the scene to have any effect on us. Had Ojeda told us upfront exactly what's going on here, Hitchcock style, it would have made his film a lot more suspenseful.

the funeral home review

It's a shame that the writing is so poor, as all other aspects of The Funeral Home are technically impressive. In spite of the creaky dialogue it's got believable performances from its small cast, and it's a handsomely mounted film that gets good value out of a single location. But after that arresting opening, we're left to endure a poorly plotted bore, and ultimately the film is as devoid of life as one of Bernardo's clients.

The Funeral Home
 is in US virtual cinemas from January 29th and on VOD February 2nd. A UK/ROI release has yet to be announced.



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