For most people, funeral parlours are uneasy places that we only go to when we need to pay our respects to a loved one. Imagine having to live in one. Here, undertaker Bernardo (Luis Machin) and his wife Estella (Celeste Gerez) and stepdaughter Irina (Camila Vacarini) share their home with many, rather passive but annoying, entities. However, one of them is causing more trouble than the others and family shaman, Ramona (Susana Varela), is convinced it’s a demonic presence. As tensions are frayed all-round, she attempts to exorcise the malevolent spirit so the family can live in peace.
Argentinian film The Funeral Home is an interesting concept from writer/director Mauro Iván Ojeda, and there are plenty of eerie, creepy moments before we get to the full-on action of Ramona trying get the demon to evacuate the house. There’s also a lot of family conflict, particularly between obstinate young Irina and stepdad Bernardo, but also between neglected Estella and Bernardo, who may be having a spectral affair. This human drama is more important at times than the terror that’s brought by the ghosts.
Where The Funeral Home really succeeds is in the cinematography. Lucas Timerman’s glides around the set like a stalking vampire and there are brooding shots from across the grounds of the house that are stunning. The score - by Jeremías Smith - is particularly effective, providing gentle comfort and discordant terror. The ghost aspect is admirably restrained, Ojeda choosing to subtly introduce the spooky elements with a less-is-more approach.
Although it gets a little too over-the-top - but fortunately not too much - in the final act, there’s plenty to recommend here.