If you’re going to spend the post apocalypse locked in a basement, your film better be populated with some damn interesting characters. This is not the case with Aftermath, the new film by Peter Engert (The Valley of Tears), which uses 90 minutes to make no statement about humanity or invest in the depth of its characters whatsoever. It’s not a good thing when Edward Furlong is the highlight of your movie.
Aftermath is set a few days after the kick off of World War III. Nuclear bombs have scorched the earth. A resolute doctor named Hunter (C.J. Thomason – Monkey’s Paw) holes up with eight other Texans in a basement while the world goes to hell. All of the characters besides Hunter and Brad (Edward Furlong) are wholly forgettable. A few times I even forgot who a person was, which girl was which, and who was still alive. Brad is the only one who manages to bring some liveliness to the screw with his redneck temper and sudden bursts of anger towards Hunter, the president, and whoever else he deems worthy of his misplaced rage. it’s not a good performance by any means, but it’s the only that offers any kind of entertainment in Aftermath‘s impotent narrative.
The film essentially boils down to scene after scene of people bickering. Sometimes outsiders attempt to break their way into the basement, so Hunter and the crew get some much longed for gun play. I’m not sure if the outsiders are supposed to be zombies per se, but they certainly move and moan like them. Just when it seems like the film is going to shift in favor of a more zombie-apocalypse approach, it comes to a screeching halt and reverts back to quarreling in a dark basement.
There is one brief sequence that helps liven up the monotony. At one point, the survivors decide to bust out of the basement to shoot up the intruders creeping their way across the lawn. There’s some fun visuals during this shootout, with stylish use of freeze frames and zooms. The amusement doesn’t last long, however, and soon Aftermath is limping towards its conclusion.
The morose ending comes as no surprise since it’s shown during the opening minutes of the film. This prologue leaves no room for suspense or interest in the minutes leading up to the climax. Y’know, since we’ve already seen how it ends. It’s this poor decision and several others that make Aftermath a dry, boring film that feels like it wants to say something important, but fails to open its mouth. Unless you really love watching people argue for 90 or so minutes. Then have I got a movie for you!