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[Fantasia] ‘The Undertaker’s Home’ review: The sound and the scary

Some of the best sound editing in years.

Horror is great at constantly reinventing itself. This does not always work – the convoluted backstories that enter long running franchises come to mind – but there are plenty of attempts. The haunted house premise has been around as long horror stories have for example. The story can work even with no changes, but a fresh coat of paint can be refreshing.

Over time, the sub genre has seen a number of iterations.  The setting has moved from being confined in a scary little shack and traveled to opulent mansions. There have been stories that have seen the malevolent spirits travel to multiple homes. The idea has even been moved to haunted ships (in space and on the ocean) and airplanes.

The Undertaker’s Home (La Funeraria) is a horror movie from Argentina making its world premiere at the Fantasia Film Festival. The plot seems to check off all the boxes for a spooky movie. A man and his family live at the funeral home he is running. They are literally surrounded by the dead. Despite the problems within the family, they have learned to live with their supernatural guests. Until they come across the one who wants nothing to do with them.

The best way to describe the score and sound mixing in the movie is unrelenting. It is a barrage of loud bangs and strings that keep the audience on edge. The Undertaker’s Home has a natural tension that is built into the plot. It is a haunted house story taking place at a funeral parlor, after all. The music and sound add another layer. It is impossible for the audience to take a breath.

[Fantasia] 'The Undertaker's Home' review: The sound and the scary

This helps add to the tone of the movie. The Undertaker’s Home is dimly lit most of the time. This is the movie that is comfortable taking place in the dimly lit shadows. Again, this is an eerie feeling that the movie organically develops. The top notch score from Pablo Isola takes what would be a standard horror movie to the next level.

There is more to the film than just a fantastic soundtrack, however. There are some genuine scares to be found. The Undertaker’s Home uses one of the oldest premises as its foundations. This leads to some commonly seen horror tropes. However, they are very effective. Director and writer Mauro Ival Ojeda shoots scenes in a way that accentuates the beauty. This makes even the simplest of jump scares better than they normally would be.

Along with the ghostly terrors are the problems within the family. The Undertaker’s Home is about more than just an evil ghost. The story focuses as much on the human drama as it does on unseen terror. It adds a human touch not normally seen in the genre. A movie’s score can turn it from merely average to pretty good. The trick is making sure the music enhances the film and never overpowers it. The Undertaker’s Home is an excellent example of this. Its fantastic score makes an already strong movie something special.

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