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Reviews » Theatrical Reviews » Aftershock (2013)
Aftershock (2013)
Other // R // May 10, 2013
Review by Jeff Nelson | posted May 9, 2013 | E-mail the Author
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Eli Roth has worked with numerous titles in the horror genre. While he hasn't directed any pictures in a while, Roth has been incredibly active in the film industry. However, he has primarily been involved in independent features, which is the case with his newest horror/thriller called Aftershock. You'll find his name in the credits three times as a co-writer, cast member, and a producer. Roth was highly involved in the picture's production, but it wasn't enough to make this a worthy horror/thriller. It's meant to play off of our fears of natural disasters and human nature, although it's never scary. After premiering for film festival moviegoers, Dimension Films acquired the rights for distribution in the United States. Aftershock had potential, but it left me dissatisfied.

A group of travelers were having a great time exploring tourist destinations, nightclubs, and wineries in Chile. While they don't all share the same motivations, Gringo (Eli Roth), Ariel (Ariel Levy), Pollo (Nicolas Martinez), Monica (Andrea Osvart), and Kylie (Lorenza Izzo) find themselves in an underground nightclub when a massive earthquake hits and kills countless individuals. They're emotionally shaken, as people begin scattering in different directions. Reaching the surface is only the beginning of their troubles. A series of aftershocks and riots begin picking them off one by one, as they attempt to find a safe area to hide.

The first act of Aftershock is filled to the brim with crude jokes and a few guys trying to get laid. Gringo is divorced, but has a kid at home. His group of friends are attempting to introduce him to promiscuous women, but he doesn't impress any of them. Kylie wants to get drunk and have a good time, while Monica simply wants to make sure she's safe. Pollo wants to sleep with women, while still helping his friend Ariel get over his ex-girlfriend. It attempts to incorporate humor, but it didn't generate a single laugh in the screening room. You'll find yourself wondering when the earthquake will finally take place. There isn't a single character that will capture the viewers' attention, which makes their interactions rather dull. This first act offers nothing but rehashed concepts and horrid dialogue. Writers Guillermo Amoedo, Nicolás López, and Eli Roth attempt to deliver some character development in order to make us sympathize with the lead roles, although it never succeeds.

Once the earthquake hits, chaos begins to ensue. Natural disasters can most certainly be terrifying. Aftershock asks us to imagine ourselves in this situation, which definitely builds a horrifying thought. This ultimately leads to the discussion of human nature. How would society behave in such a catastrophe? Well, the writers display some people helping others, while large groups of individuals are rioting and looting. After the earthquake, numerous prisoners escape from the prisons and charge into the streets in order to wreak havoc. The group of travelers find themselves being chased by these dangerous thugs, although this portion drags itself out far too long. The remainder of this horror/thriller has a few decent moments with some solid ideas, but it doesn't take very long to revert back to being a predictable mess. Instead of rooting for any of the characters to survive, you'll be asking yourself when the next one will be picked off.

Even though Aftershock clearly isn't trying to explore new grounds, it's almost too familiar. One could literally name each film it was influenced by while watching it. However, there are times when it can be difficult to confirm whether director Nicolás López is trying to shock us with its violence or if it's meant to be an over-the-top B-movie. Regardless, it never quite dedicates itself to either goal. The final act follows genre conventions, which will leave audiences feeling incredibly underwhelmed. This story could have been taken in numerous interesting and terrifying directions, but it walks along an incredibly predictable path. Those who have experienced earthquakes know how scary it can be, but this horror/thriller doesn't translate any of this intensity. Instead of standing out from the crowd, Aftershock gets lost amongst the flock.

The movie itself isn't authentic, but the cast clearly had a good time filming it. Eli Roth is acceptable as Gringo, even though it feels like he's playing himself. Andrea Osvart delivers a forgettable performance as Monica, which doesn't aid in making us care about her. Ariel Levy is convincing enough in the role of Ariel, even though he receives the smallest amount of attention. Nicolas Martinez and Lorenza Izzo are the film's weakest links as Pollo and Kylie. Horror flicks aren't known for the acting, but these are absolutely horrendous performances. It appears as if López randomly chose two random people to play these characters. They provide an abundance of scenes that will leave you rolling your eyes.

Director Nicolás López supplies Aftershock with visuals one would expect to see in a nightclub. The screen is filled with deep blacks, but some of the colors have a neon quality to them. The blood reds stand out above the majority of the color palette. While the earthquake and the aftershocks look convincing enough, López doesn't experiment with any inventive techniques in order to make us feel as if we're caught in the middle of the destruction. The majority of the camerawork was shot with a handheld style of filmmaking, but it fortunately never becomes distracting. While the atmosphere itself is fitting, the visuals simply aren't very memorable.

As a horror fan, I was looking forward to seeing Aftershock. The trailer displayed some potential for an entertaining bloodbath. Unfortunately, this picture is incredibly disjointed through each cinematic element. It isn't scary, intense, funny, or shocking. While the basic concept is solid, the execution is poor. Director Nicolás López leads us down a predictable path that will quickly disappear from your memory, as it feels far too familiar. While the cons heavily outweigh the pros, this isn't an absolute waste of time. There are a few moments that deliver tension, but they're in the far minority. I think that the cast had a better time making this film than I had watching it. Perhaps this could be fun to watch with a group of friends at home. Rent it.

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