With Aftershock set to be released May 9th, I figured it would be best to post this review now to give you, the viewers, a better sense of what you can expect.
If I started talking about a revolutionist for violence, sex, and gore in cinema, your first guess as to who it is would probably be right. Eli Roth’s co-written and produced natural disaster horror Aftershock is set for release later in 2013. But I had the privilege of viewing it and witnessing the master himself discuss Aftershock at the Toronto International Film Festival this past year. Roth may have handed the directing reigns off to the talented Nicolas Lopez who also co-wrote the script, but he did it so he could take on the lead role in this earthquake thriller. Also starring the beautiful Lorenza Izzo, Ariel Levy, and Nicolas Martinez. Aftershock is a tamer outing for something that has Roth written all over it. However, sacrificing some nudity and blood for a stronger story and emotional balance appears to have paid off for Mr. Roth and company. Although he is sharing the spotlight, Aftershock just might be Eli Roth’s most mature and complete offering to date, even if his previous outings consist of dissecting human flesh and border necrophilia.
Gringo (Roth) and his friends Pollo (Nicolas Martinez) and Ariel (Levy) head to Chile for a vacation. After they meet up with a group of girls, they begin to check out the sights together. Upon attending an underground night club, a massive earthquake hits the city. Desperately scrambling to escape the collapsing building and the horrific violence inside, the group soon realize that the surface is ripe with terror. Running into gangs of criminals, large debris, and the possibility of an impending tsunami, the group search for an escape.
One of the perks of having a Q and A after a film is the attendees are handed the gift to better understand where a pictures roots dwell. Hearing Nicolas Lopez, Eli Roth, and cast discuss the origin of the film and the real life horror they and friends encountered during the 8.8 magnitude earthquake that devastated Chile in 2010 was riveting. Not to mention learning that some of the film was actually shot in some remnant ruins left after the quake. I’ll post a link to the entire Q and A section at the end of the review.
Aftershock is a tale split into two variants of the horror genre. The first sequence is an honest, brutal retelling of the earthquakes destructiveness and the utter terror experienced by those trapped by its immense force. The second sequence is a embellishment of the instinctive cruelty and animalistic nature of humanity. If the last half of the film wasn’t so absurd and unnecessarily degrading, Aftershock would have soared above what has become conventional horror. Which is why when watching Aftershock you can’t help but feel it didn’t fully realize its opportunity. However, thanks to the fresh, unflinching look into the effects of a natural disaster, Aftershock can’t be dismissed.
Roth is his usual eccentric, seductive self in the lead. He is able to feed off the natural beauty of Chile and the capable performances of his co-stars. I expected the cast to resort to typical horror cliches, but that is one of the redeeming qualities of Aftershock. It tries to dispose of the common mistakes made currently in the genre instead of crumbling under them. I’ll also give a shout out to Nicolas Lopez who handled the massive scale of the film very well. Aftershock is a refreshing attempt at jump starting an over-saturated genre. But due in part to a less than plausible second half and a lack of general scares, Aftershock cannot truly live up to the hype.
I just have to add that Aftershock does have one of the best final scenes and cinema deaths simultaneously in recent memory and also contains a cameo of Selena Gomez.
Aftershock: 6 out of 10. (It might be a 6 because I have a soft spot for Eli Roth).
Here is the link for the entire Q and A.