Reviewed by Patrick Cooper
When the earthquake finally hits in Nicolas Lopez’s disaster-horror film Aftershock, it’s bloody mayhem. Limbs fly, people are crushed in horrific ways, rape-hungry convicts roam the streets, you get the gist. Unfortunately, I found myself wanting all of the main characters to die (aside from one). After spending nearly 40 minutes with a group off men and women, there’s absolutely no emotional wallop whatsoever when they start dying horrible deaths. These are narcissistic, horny people who we’ve seen step on those less well-off than them several times leading up to the disaster, and we’re supposed to be rooting for them. Get out of my face.
Much like Eli Roth’s previous work, Aftershock takes a group of terrible people dictating by their libido and puts them in a deadly, seemingly hopeless situation. Roth stars alongside Ariel Levy and Nicolas Martinez – three friends partying their way through Santiago, Chile. They hit up parties day and night in hopes of getting laid by naive women who will believe their boastful lies. Nicolas (aka “Pollo”) is the lead perpetrator – he tells girls his dad owns half of the damn country and throws big bills around like small change.
After striking out several times, the guys meet two girls willing to get down. A third girl, Monica (Andrea Osvart), is wisely apprehensive, but sticks around to look over her sister. Shortly into their good time dance party, a giant earthquake strikes in the middle of a crowded nightclub. Things are chaotic in the club and outside they’re even worse. The quake took down a prison, so gangs of rowdy convicts are on the hunt for some ass. These gangs, combined with maimed citizens and a tsunami warning, create a dizzying atmosphere of despair.
The lengthy introduction to these characters will not make you care about them. They’re vile party animals with no redeeming qualities. Until after the quake hits, of course. Then they’re courageous bastions of humanity. The weak attempts to make them sympathetic get lost in the mix of boozy dance montages. For example, when Pollo, who has spent the entire film leading up to the quake lying and manipulating women, begs for a lift operator to save his friend, his pleas come off as a joke.
With the escaped prisoners chasing them, the film attempts to show that “hey, our main characters aren’t so bad! Check out these depraved scumbags over here!” It’s a flaccid grab at some kind of deep meaning or redmeption. Standing up against the mounds of depravity before and after the quake, there’s really nothing deep to get out of Aftershock but a deep sense that you’ve wasted 90 minutes.
I will say that it’s cool to see a twist ending in a disaster film. Too bad it’s spoiled in the trailer.
Aftershock is presented in 1080p in 1.78:1 widescreen. Details and definition are very sharp, particularly during the daytime scenes. A lot of the times the colors look saturated and during nighttime shots, the picture loses a lot of clarity. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack packs a bassy thump – especially the club and quake scenes.
Commentary with Director/Co-Writer Nicolas Lopez and Producer/Actor/Co-Writer Eli Roth: these two deliver an exhaustive audio track, covering everything you’d expect from a technical commentary. It’s not very entertaining unless you dig the technical aspects of filmmaking.
The Making of Aftershock: This 10-minute look behind the scenes features the crew and actors discussing various aspects of the shoot. Lopez talks about the real-life events that inspired the film and how they achieved the earthquake effects.
Shaking up the Casting Process: they take the actors, they put them in a box that shakes a lot, ta-da.