Director Nicolas Lopez takes on his first film aimed for the American market. “Aftershock” tells the story of a group of travellers in Chile. While partying one night there is a huge earthquake, which is only the beginning of more bad things to come. The films lead is Eli Roth (Inglourious Basterds, Cabin Fever) as Gringo, an American who is visiting his friend Ariel (played by Ariel Levy). The cast also includes a Johnny Galecki (Big Bang Theory) look a like named Pollo (played by Nicolas Martinez) I swear the guy is Mr Galecki’s twin! To round out the group we have three beautiful european ladies Monica, Irina and Kylie (Andrea Osvart, Natasha Yarovenko and Lorenza Izzo).
The first 30 minutes of the film is all about the dynamic between Gringo and Ariel who are good friends. Pollo is one of Ariel’s friends but doesn’t really know Gringo, so the two tend to just put up with each other for the sake of their mutual friend. The group go on various tourist like adventures and then at night they party in the clubs. We find out Gringo has a daughter, I didn’t really find that a crucial detail in the story though. I assume that he’s involved in some corporate marketing type of job, I’m not really sure, It’s never that clear why he is in Chile in the first place, Was it just a vacation? I guess it’s not that important. It’s really good to see Eli Roth play a serious and mature role. Don’t get me wrong, I like the crazy personalities of some of the characters he has played in other films. For example, his own directorial debut “Cabin Fever” and also “Inglourious Basterds”, but he really settles down nicely in this role.
The girls are stunning in this. Both Natasha and Lorenzo don’t have a lot of experience, which makes their performances with characters in a high emotional state, all the more impressive. The film is shot pretty well too. There is a good soundtrack to support the change in the tone of the story. We get some great European Dance and House music, also a really suspenseful score after the mayhem starts. The prosthetic and makeup effects were quiet good too. I was expecting a bit more of a realistic look to the blood, but I think it was intentionally a bit more red than normal. Along with the effects there are some nice kill scenes, the script takes a while to evolve but in the end it’s worth the wait. There is a standout kill scene involving fire but I wont spoil it for you because it was impressive.
Moreover, a nice little twist towards the end left me content with most of what I saw. There are a couple of heavy scenes involving a group of prisoners that escaped amidst all the madness. I suppose the gangs actions are something you would come to expect from truly evil people like this. Sadly they dont’ really get their just deserts, that was disappointing. I felt the comedy in the first act of the film missed the mark as well. It’s probably the writing and not the actual delivery which was fine. The story is a little bit loose on details here and there and takes a good 40 minutes before any action starts to unfold. Some people can have a problem with that, I felt it building so it didn’t bother me.
However, the film’s biggest weakness was probably the shooting style of the earthquake. I read this thing had a $2 million dollar budget, yet it seems as though someone is just shaking the camera profusely. Honestly it was like something from the Syfy channel or what you would see in an old disaster film like “Earthquake”, with Charlton Heston (haha). They made up for how underwhelming the special effects looked by at least putting in some blood and gore. None the less, with a budget like this I was expecting some impressive set designs and earthquake carnage.
I think Aftershock delivered exactly what people would expect. Some solid acting and for once, characters you actually care about and want to survive. Plenty of the red stuff, some great kill sequences and a fun little twist towards the end. It’s graphic and violent in several scenes but I think it’s all in the context of what is happening to our group of friends. I commend Eli on the writing too. I haven’t seen a blend of Earthquake/Horror before, so well done!
My rating for “Aftershock” is 6/10