Directed By: Nicolás López
Starring: Eli Roth, Andrea Osvárt, Ariel Levy, Nicholás Martínez, Lorenza Izzo, Natasha Yarovenko
If you’re into Eli Roth-style gore, “Aftershock” is satisfying enough – period.
Gringo’s (Eli Roth) enjoying some time in Chile with his buddy Ariel (Ariel Levy) and Ariel’s lifelong friend Pollo (Nicholás Martínez). Courtesy of Pollo’s minor celebrity status and seemingly bottomless bank account, the guys get access to all the hottest parties and the chance to take some ladies along for the ride. The divorced Gringo, recently single Ariel and ever-horny Pollo are thrilled to take their new Hungarian friends Irina, Kylie, and Monica (Natasha Yarovenko, Lorenza Izzo, and Andrea Osvárt) to one of the best local parties. It’s all flirting, booze, and dancing at first, but after a devastating earthquake strikes the region, their big night out is consumed by bone crushing destruction, violent escaped convicts, and a lot of blood.
But before we get to the carnage, “Aftershock” uses its first act to offer up a little character development. The guys’ situations are pretty cut and dry, but, nevertheless, suffice to earn some compassion. The ladies, on the other hand, are far harder to track courtesy of an underdeveloped script. Kylie and Monica are sisters, but two entirely different people. Monica is obsessed with her mission to keep Kylie from drinking, but her efforts are so fruitless, it’s pathetic. Her desperation to keep her sister sober also begs the question, why? Is Kylie a recovering addict? Maybe she’s pregnant? The more attention the situation gets, the more likely it seems we’ll get some plot twisting family secret to explain it all, but we don’t, so the whole scenario winds up doing nothing more than making both girls people you’d rather not hang out with. Irina, on the other hand, seems pretty cool. She’s got a young son back home, likes to party, and is also kind and friendly, but, again, we’re left with questions; why is she there? Is she Kylie’s friend or Monica’s friend? For all we know, she only first met Monica and Kylie on this trip, too.
Fortunately, “Aftershock” is far more about ripping the main players apart rather than putting fully fleshed out characters together. The earthquake effect looks a little cheap, but the production design, music, and performances are solid enough to sell the peril. However, it’s the material that follows the initial earthquake that makes the film a slight standout.
Yes, “Aftershock” is one big montage of blood and brutality, but it’s also a rather intriguing look at the sick things people will do post-natural disaster in order to survive. “Aftershock’s” representation of all convicts as sex-obsessed murderers is a little extreme, but it forces our heroes to go to interesting places. Whereas they all start as basic caricatures of the necessary horror movie stereotypes, the sky-high stakes entice them to subvert their characteristics and our expectations, and it’s all quite fun to track, especially considering it’s all happening in a sea of blood and carnage.
The big earthquake scene could have come out of an early 90s disaster movie, but when “Aftershock” moves in for a close-range kill, the novelty is mesmerizing and works wonders with the film’s pacing. Co-writer and director Nicolás López keeps a steady stream of well-timed kills giving “Aftershock” a pulse of sorts. You spend the first chunk of the film getting to know everyone and then once the killing starts, it doesn’t stop, always striking when necessary yet also catching you off guard with unique death scenarios.
Overall, “Aftershock” is exactly what you’d expect from an Eli Roth produced production, for better or worse. Certain kill scenes call for wildly unnatural behavior and many moments seem to serve the gore and the gore alone, but the filmmakers also find great success in ditching big budget flashy effects and set pieces, as the film ends up bearing a notably intimate quality.