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Aftershock – 6

Director – Nicolas Lopez

Cast – Eli Roth, Nicolás Martínez, Ariel Levy, Lorenza Izzo, Natasha Yarovenko, Andrea Osvárt, Marcial Tagle

Release Year – 2013

Reviewed by John of the Dead

When my buddy told me that Aftershock was coming out on May 10th, 2013 I asked him “What the hell is Aftershock?”, because I had yet to here anything about such a film. After looking it up online I saw that it starred Eli Roth and had something to do with an earthquake in Chile, so I figured I would give it a watch if such a non-marketed film were to come my way. Well, an industry friend alerted me that Aftershock would be debuting at my local discount theater, which immediately had me excited. “WHY is it bypassing the premium cinema and instead heading straight to the discount/dollar theater?” I asked myself. “Is it too gory? Is it something the masses won’t love but something genre fans will adore?”, like The Midnight Meat Train (only released in discount theaters), and after viewing this piece I now know why it achieved the release it did. Aftershock is not an experience I would outrightly recommend to anyone, but it did come with its fair share of positives and good horror at times that may make this worth its discount price.

While at an underground nightclub in Chile a group of friends find themselves in a fight for their lives when a strong earthquake buries them underground, only to realize that their horrors are just beginning when they finally reach the surface.

So why did this achieve the release it did? Well, this piece is just not good enough. “But the majority of horror films that reach the big screen are not worth premium pricing!” Yes, I understand that and that is why most of us despise Hollywood. In a sense I am relieved to see this film go directly to discount theaters instead of sucking up our money at premium theaters and wish more distributors would be this “sincere”. OK I’ll stop with my pseudo-rant / Hollywood commentary and get on with the review.

The story, written by director Nicolas Lopez in conjunction with Eli Roth and Guillermo Amoedo, starts off well and begins its onslaught on playing with our emotions regarding the characters (more on that as I progress). The first 40 minutes or so are spent getting us to like and fall for the six main characters that we follow. There is the traveling friend and recently divorced father, lulzily only referred to as “Gringo”, who despite trying to find love and romance in a new country also happens to miss his daughter very dearly. He is accompanied by his two friends, Ariel, who is still hung up on his ex and is written to provide much comic relief, and “Pollo”, a rich asshole and womanizer who provides most of the film’s laughs. They meet up with three pretty Hungarian girls looking to have a good time, a time only the guys can give them, but most of the attention is focused around the three bros. Once the earthquake hits all hell begins to break loose and that is when people start dying. I was very surprised at how the characters were used after the earthquake, with characters that you expected to survive until the final conflict being killed off rather quickly. I did enjoy that the deaths were in pretty heartbreaking fashion given the story invested a lot of time in getting you to like them. Sadly it is also after the earthquake that the film becomes worse when it was totally supposed to become better. Several faults and execution issues arise and at times I was left not caring for whatever happened next. The story did seem to find itself again when the first act kicked in, but its predictable climax was as bittersweet as the overall experience.

So what kind of horror can you expect from a film about the aftermath from an earthquake? Well, like most disaster films the horror stems from humanity’s reaction to the tension, turmoil, and societal breakdown around them. Looters are ravaging the streets, single mothers are packing pistols and shoot anyone, good or bad, who tries to use their territory for shelter, and violent criminals are roaming free after a nearby prison collapsed during the quake. Once the horror gets settled it is the criminals who provide the most horror when they see the remaining survivors and the three pretty Hungarian girls that they want to use for their own sick purposes. The remaining tension stems from the survivors hiding and trying to evade the pursuit of the criminals who are slowly but surely catching up to them as they run out of places to hide in the crumbled city.

Director Nicolas Lopez did well with this film and was especially effective during the developmental phase. His execution of the party scenes was fun and he got the most from his male actors in providing much humor for us to enjoy. The female actresses were also positively used but they seemed to have served a different purpose, naturally. Once the horror got going after the earthquake his execution was still pretty solid, giving us lots of gore as we watched partygoers get crushed by falling debris, as well as dismemberments that include a hilarious scene where someone loses a hand. Eventually the tension shifts from gore and falling debris to humanity’s social breakdown, and it was there that the film started to lose me. The execution was OK, but it was far from the positive level that it was before people started acting like animals. Thankfully the tension was still good and made these faults bearable.

Overall, Aftershock is a decent experience that was fun at first but slowly drifted into a horrific tale that failed to hit as hard as I wanted it to. The faults are made forgivable by Lopez’s direction at times, but all in all this is not an experience I would recommend you go out of your way for, but at least you won’t pay premium prices if you do so.

Rating: 6/10

…Additional Stills

“Guys…I know Hostel II sucked. I know…”

Bearded men and axes mix like chocolate syrup and milk.

“So…who wants to go first?”

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