by Andrew Robinson
The standard plot of a horror film today is to have a group of people partying for thirty minutes, followed by a descent into chaos and mayhem, either by creatures or madman. Aftershock follows that formula exactly. The movie does almost nothing to be unique, but it doesn’t stop the film from being a wonderfully enjoyable mess.
With this being the first time Eli Roth and Nicolas Lopez have written together, it’s clear that Roth had a lot of input as the film plays very much like how Hostel and Cabin Fever did. It establishes early the idea of the holiday excursion, all the fun our gang is having and the character dynamics to expect. There’s the outsider, Gringo (Eli Roth), the fun loving crazy guy, Pollo (Nicolas Martinez), and the depressed best friend who just won’t stop talking about his ex-girlfriend, Ariel (Ariel Levy). While out enjoying the country’s hospitality, they meet a trio of ladies who persuade the men to visit a more authentic part of Chile.
While on that side of the country, at yet another (authentic) party/club, there is a massive earthquake. Hoping the worst is over, the group finds a way out of the club only to find that the town has become completely devastated and anarchy has taken over in the blink of an eye. As they try to find safety from the madness, aftershock after aftershock ravage the city.
Aftershock uses the standard ‘one-by-one’ method of plodding along as we see characters finding death right on schedule. Those scenes, as they come one at a time, are not particularly memorable or clever; they’re appropriately sadistic and bloody, though, and the crowd’s reaction was probably exactly what Roth and Lopez had in mind.
What makes this film slightly more than just a fun mess is the characters. It’s enjoyable to spend time, especially the time before it really becomes a horror film, with Gringo and Pollo then laugh at Ariel singing a weird song to Monica (Andrea Osvart). It’s like watching MTV’s Spring Break back in high school, enjoying the party happening on screen. Unfortunately, the biggest problems with the film happen the moment the horror kicks in and the audience is supposed to start feeling empathy for assholes.
For example, we see the group of misfits hassling a man who runs a gondola service early on in the film. After the initial earthquake, one of the guys becomes severely injured so they have to go back to the gondola owner and beg for their friend to go on ahead of others. While it could be a moment to care for the injured friend, it’s even easier to agree with the gondola operator as he shouts, refusing money and telling them to go to the back of the line.
Aftershock is no different than any standard horror flick in the regard to the standard tropes. It has some fun characters, but it’s ultimately mediocre.
The Upside: A great advertisement for Chile to be your next holiday destination
The Downside: It’s another average horror film
On the Side: This is, somehow, not a remake of Tremors II: Aftershocks but it will be in theaters sometime in 2013.
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Related Topics: Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF)