White Coffin is less a movie and more of a free run at a buffet. It’s like a plate overloaded with snacks and savoury treats. Little horror sausage rolls balanced precariously on top of tiny horror quiches and crisps. It’s a triple-decker trifle of a thing stuffed with layers borrowed from half a dozen different movies, muddling together flavours. It riffs on movies such as Duel and the excellent Jonathan Mostow thriller Breakdown, before moving onto a kind of mugging interpretation of Hammer horror that resembles the underrated Steve Coogan show Dr. Terrible’s House of Horrible, before ending with a nod to revenge dramas and sadistic gore-fests like Saw.
It all begins in relatively disciplined fashion as Virginia (Julieta Cardinali) ferries her daughter through the Argentine countryside. A flat tyre prompts a run-in with a suspicious looking pick-up truck and a chance meeting with a man who, in the typical genre style, warns her of the dangers inherent in “this neck of the woods”. Later at a petrol station her daughter goes missing with all fingers pointing at the previously sighted dodgy lorry and Virginia finds herself in a desperate race to reclaim her stolen progeny. She’s not the only person currently lacking a child however and it eventually transpires that her, along with a pair of equally miffed women, are being played off against each other as part of some wider conspiracy.
The early kidnap moments, before White Coffin descends into a hotchpotch of differing genre tropes, are solid enough and Cardinali plays it with enough mad-eyed conviction that you just about run with it. About halfway through its slim 75 minutes things begin to go a bit haywire. The narrative and tone begin to shift as the movie begins the process of effectively flitting between sub-genres, cherry-picking the best morsels for the story. So we get a muddled section in which we watch an indeterminate murder and burial before a possible resurrection that prompts the final, revenge driven, act.
In its support, it’s never boring. White Coffin is garbled, barely coherent at times but never dull. It zips along with such unfocused enthusiasm that you can’t help but feel some warmth towards the project even if it feels like a mix tape of director Daniel de la Vega’s favourite movies.
But distracting as it may be, it’s still unfulfilling. Like the proverbial greedy guts who’s wandered off to the buffet to overload his plate with a few too many greasy bites, you’ll find no real nourishment here even if you can stuff your face with fistfuls of junk.
DIRECTOR: DANIEL DE LA VEGA
WRITER: ADRIAN GARCIA BOGLIANO, RAMIRO GARCIA BOGLIANO
STARS: JULIETA CARDINALI, DAMIAN DREIZIK
RUNTIME: 75 MINS APPROX