Despite the title and somewhat similar poster art writer/director Mauro Iván Ojeda’s The Funeral Home, (La Funeraria in its native Argentina), is not a remake of Willian Fruet’s 1980 Canuxploitation film of the same name. that film was a tale of people going missing in a former mortuary this is a dark and sombre film about a haunted house and a family as much in need of a therapist as they are an exorcist.
Bernardo (Luís Machin, Necrophobia, The Unseen) is an undertaker. He, his wife Estela (Celeste Gerez) and her daughter Irina (Camila Vaccarini) live in the back part of the mortuary. Part of the building is also off-limits, left to slowly decay in order to make peace with the ghosts that dwell in the building.
Slowly decaying could also be used to describe the family’s relationship. Irina hasn’t gotten over the death of her father and refuses to accept Bernardo. Estela numbs herself with pills and tries to deal with the conflict between them as well as the ghosts. Bernardo meanwhile has been crossing the literal, line into the ghosts’ part of the house to try and communicate with his deceased first wife.
The twist here is that everyone knows the house is haunted from the start. They believe that however annoying they may be, the spirits can’t hurt them. They’ve been assured of this by Ramona (Susana Varela), the local psychic. However, she’s wrong, something much worse, something demonic, has somehow been summoned to the house.
Ojeda relies on lots of tracking shots through the dark building to provide scares and build tension. Coupled with an effective score and glimpses of things almost out of sight they frequently do just that. Whether by budget or by choice, The Funeral Home relies on sound and suggestion more than effects to depict its horrors.
That’s made easier by some incredible set design. The entire film takes place in the funeral home or on its grounds. Making it look so ominous amplifies the effect of those odd sounds and makes the shadowy figures look that much more terrifying.
The Funeral Home also has a few unique touches that help set it apart, such as a scene where Estela waters flowers growing in an old casket repurposed as a planter. Or the family having to rely on buckets and a porta-potty in the garden because the bathroom is too haunted to use. Something that apart from being funny, sets up one of the film’s scariest sequences.
The film’s last act ties some of the characters’ issues in both the physical and spirit world together before throwing everything from poltergeist activity to possession at us. And to cap it all off The Funeral Home manages to end on a note that’s actually quite poignant.
The Funeral Home will play virtual theatres on January 29th before its digital release on February 2 via Uncork’d Entertainment You might be able to find a list of theatres playing it on their Facebook page. With so many lousy ghost stories such as The Haunting of Margam Castle and Playhouse coming out this makes a nice change of pace.