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 White Coffin - Daniel de la Vega 2016 Film review

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PostSubject: White Coffin - Daniel de la Vega 2016 Film review   Sat Sep 17, 2016 3:08 pm

White Coffin, directed by Daniel de la Vega and filmed in Argentina, stars Julieta Cardinali as Virginia, a mother whose daughter is abducted whilst she is driving across country in an attempt to put distance between herself and her estranged husband. He currently has custody of their child and Virginia is struggling to cope with this. When a tyre punctures on the outskirts of a remote village, the man who helps Virginia advises her to leave. Virginia travels on, stopping for a break at a service station where her daughter is taken. Giving chase to the vehicle her daughter is in results in Virginia having an accident. The story which unfolds from this incident has her deciding upon the fate of other people she meets on her journey to try and save her daughter.

Although this premise sounds simple, it’s used to good effect as Virginia’s choices are difficult ones concerning life and death. Virginia is presented as a flawed character who is prone to making wrong choices. This adds to the tension. After all will she, or won’t she, make the right choice? What is the right choice? Julieta Cardinali plays her role well and the viewer becomes aware of how against Virginia’s nature the resolutions she’s presented with are, how driven she becomes. In addition what initially appears to be a clear cut case of abduction turns out to have sinister occult roots, meaning the purpose behind Virginia’s actions becomes unclear. This is deftly handled, with the viewer having little opportunity to pause and consider as the film quickly builds up pace and tension.

The car chase action sequences are good, especially the first where Virginia is chasing the vehicle carrying her daughter. The manner in which the shots have been filmed and then edited is slick; Virginia’s desperation is clear throughout the sequence. However, I’d argue that where White Coffin really scores is in how it utilises and re-invents aspects of Roger Corman and Hammer Horror films, blending concepts, colour and style into Cormanesque surrealism with Hammeresque Satanism along with a good helping of Poe. This is a very stylistic film which uses colour and contrast to good effect. Yet, there was one scene which I felt undermined these aspects. To me, the overall style and content of White Coffin called for the gore card to be slightly underplayed. Most of the time, this was the case, so the point where gore was overused disappointed me. There was enough horror in the unfolding story for gore to take a back seat. Often, less is more.

White Coffin is a rollercoaster acid trip of colour, action, murder and mayhem. The story is solid, with a level of complexity, and much of the action derives from cause and effect. This is by no means a perfect film, but it does have narrative integrity and production values are high. White Coffin has a style which won’t appeal to everyone but, if you love Roger Corman and Hammer Horror films give it a go.
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