Eli Roth is best known as a director of small, gory horror films like Cabin Fever and Hostel, and for giving a memorably bad performance in Inglourious Basterds. Needless to say, the announcement that he would be producing, co-writing and starring in a Chilean disaster picture was met with both interest and uncertainty. I first saw Aftershock at the Stanley Film Fest a few months ago, and I was happily surprised by just how fun and thrilling the damn thing ended up being. It’s exploitation-lite and comes packed with an unexpected amount of humor and subversive scripting too.
Roth joins director Nicolás López as the two friends do the commentary while thousands of miles apart, Roth in L.A. and López in Chilé. López makes it clear that he was in no way trying to make the official film of Chilé’s recent earthquake saying “we wanted to make a fun, roller coaster ride mwovie where an earthquake happens in Chilé, but it’s not about our real earthquake.” He succeeded.
See what else they had to say in the commentary track for Nicolás López’s Aftershock.
Commentators: Nicolás López (director) and Eli Roth (actor/producer)
1. López is “very proud” to have made a movie featuring the same Dimension logo that opened such classics as “From Dusk ’til Dan.”*
2. Roth recalls meeting López at the Los Angeles Film Festival where the Chilean’s debut feature was playing. The two were introduced when López reached out to Roth as a fan of Cabin Fever.
3. Roth is a huge fan of López’s “Fuck Trilogy” which consists of Fuck My Life, Fuck My Wedding, and Fuck My Family. He’d love for you to watch it on Netflix this weekend.
4. Selena Gomez’s cameo came about when she had her team contact Roth only to discover they both happened to be in Chile. She’s apparently a big horror movie buff.
5. Roth compliments the film’s color design including the t-shirts worn by several characters. López explains that the shirts actually foreshadow several of the characters’ impending deaths.
6. The handful of helicopter shots in the film were accomplished by attaching the Canon Eos 5D camera on a remote controlled helicopter called the Octocam.
7. Roth calls Lorenza Izzo and puts her on speaker phone so he can tell her that López refers to her as the “ass double for his films.”
8. López talks about how this was his first film to feel like a real movie for one simple reason: the characters speak English. He says having grown up watching Hollywood movies had ingrained in him that real movies are in English.
9. The nightclub scene where the earthquake hits was filmed an hour and a half away from the nearest big city so while the main cast stayed in the casino’s hotel, the extras (including several models) had to leave early to catch the bus home. López passed a hat around to raise money so he could afford to put the models up at the casino allowing them to stay.
10. The iPhone pic of Pollo’s balls is actually a pic of López’s.
11. The scene where the earthquake hits was done in one shot (not an uninterrupted take, but one shot in that they were unable to reset the collapsing walls and ceilings for a second take). Most of the people running amid the debris were extras. Both men chuckle at the thought of the 19-year-old models running through it all in their high heels.
12. The incident takes place in Valparaiso, but most of the post-earthquake scenes were filmed in Santiago.
13. When the tsunami warning sounds some of cast decided it was the ideal time to do a “Spielberg face.”
14. The leader of the bad guys is played by Ramón Llao who’s primarily known as a comedic actor in Chilé. Another one of the convicts is played by López’s brother in part because he came cheap.
15. Roth’s death scene was filmed in a real cemetery with shattered tombs and skeletons that were exposed during the real quake.
16. A double for Roth’s character post-burn was subjected to six hours of makeup and then forgotten about by the crew. He started wandering the cemetery at 5 am in full burn makeup which included a mouth prosthetic that prevented him from being able to speak or eat. Once they removed the appliances he protested loudly that his rights had been suppressed.
17. The only thing that terrifies López more than ghosts are Greys. “That’s why I can’t watch Paul. For me it’s a horror movie.”
18. Per Roth, Quentin Tarantino’s favorite scene in the film is when Irina is shot in the back just as she’s about to escape post-rape. “For me that’s the best compliment ever,” says López.
19. “This is a classic Chilé-wood moment,” says Roth as he describes how they handle handgun safety tests. While he questioned on set what type of load was being used to fire a blank, another crew member stepped in saying, “Just shoot me.” The actress with the gun fired, and the crew member said the safety test was complete.
20. For the Chilean crew, the most difficult shot was the destruction of the church’s large cross during one of the aftershocks.
21. The final shot was the film’s most expensive, and López adds “We only had the budget for one shot of The Impossible.” Neither he nor Roth appreciate it being included in the trailer.
Best in Commentary
- *Roth to López: “Um, yeah, in America we call it From Dusk ’til Dawn.”
- López: “If you’re a new filmmaker and you want to have Eli’s email it’s [bleep]“
- Roth: “Every time there’s a nice ass in Nicolas’ movies, it’s Lorenza [Izzo].”
- Roth: “Can we talk about Pollo’s beard? People are calling him Zack Galifianacho.”
- López: “We drop a priest. Hee hee hee hee!”
The cut of Aftershock that played at film festivals last year reportedly featured extended assault sequences to the point that it was often referred to as “rapey.” Lopez doesn’t comment on any cuts but says he shot the rape scene intentionally offscreen so it would play in the audience’s head. So if there weren’t any trims made for this version it appears his plan worked too well and had people picturing things far worse than was shown.
It’s far from explicit, too, and that’s good because the movie remains a fun little disaster flick that manages more than a few surprises along the way. Chief among them is the fact that Roth actually does a solid and affecting acting job that almost makes up for his Bear Jew travesty. Almost.
Buy Aftershock on Blu-ray from Amazon.
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