Sunday, 22 September 2013

Aftershock (2013): Review

Aftershock is a 2013 exploitation disaster movie. Directed by Nicolas Lopez starring (and produced by) Eli Roth (Cabin Fever, Inglorious Basterds), Andrea Osvart and Nicolas Martinez. The plot is based on Nicolas Lopez's real experiences during the 2010 Chilean earthquake.

The film begins by introducing us to Roth's clueless American tourist simply called "Gringo" and his Chilean tour guides Pollo and Ariel. The boys end up going on the pull in a local night club and meeting foreign beauties Kylie, Monica (Osvart) and Irina. After a few days of flirty sightseeing things go horribly wrong as the city suffers a massive earthquake and traps our protagonists in a small urban area. This is further compounded by a local prison being damaged and groups of convicted rapists roaming the area and the gang have a matter of mere hours before a predicted tsunami devastates the city.

Aftershock is very appropriately titled as it delivers shock after gruesome shock, and there were several times in the film where I gasped at how graphic the violence was. The film is very much divided into 3 distinctive styles. Firstly there is very much the tone of a laddish frat boy comedy, this then segways into frantic disaster movie and finally throws a slasher twist into the mix. This blend of styles was certainly unexpected but were really too disparate to join the film together. It certainly is an exploitation trope to mix shocking violence with black humour but the trouble was the violence was very realistic and sometimes harrowing and this clashed with the attempted humour being attempted.

That being said, I found the characters very likeable and cared about them due to the perfectly judged length of the first act and the brutal, unexpected demise of many of the main characters kept me tense and engaged. The film really subverted my expectations of which order characters would die in and the introduction of the prisoners provided a tonal change just as the "disaster movie chaos" was running out of steam. I also really liked the fresh setting of Chile as a location and although no particular culture or historical context of earthquakes was delved into it still was a nice change of pace from the predictable California earthquake setting.

Aftershock is an interesting experiment in genre melding and fairly ambitious outing for an exploitation film. Unfortunately the film fails to create a cohesive plot and falls apart in the third act as ideas clearly evaporate. A messy (in more ways than one) horror film that may cut too close to the bone for sensitive audiences, Aftershock should only be sought out by exploitation enthusiasts.

*** 3 Stars

What did you think of Aftershock? Do you think it's right to exploit real life tragic events?


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