May 15, 2013

Movie Review: Aftershock (2013)

So, the other day I just happened to be scanning the local theaters to see what they had, not sure why, there usually isn't a whole lot of variety. Then I came across a theater I haven't been to in years and discovered they had the Eli Roth produced Aftershock. I had heard of the film, even seen the trailer, but figured I wouldn't see it in theaters since it was only getting a limited release (along with VOD, I believe). Talk about a pleasant surprise.

Aftershock is something of a curious anomaly. It is an independently produced disaster movie. That is not something you see all that often. Disaster films are usually thought of as big budget productions, like the Irwin Allen productions of the 1970s (like The Poseidon Adventure and The Towering Inferno) or more recently the Roland Emmerich disaster epics The Day After Tomorrow and 2012. It takes a lot of money to destroy stuff on that scale. Well, director Nicolas Lopez and writing/producing partner (not to mention star) Eli Roth are here to prove you can do it with more modest funds.

I will not call Aftershock a classic, it is nowhere near that, but it is certainly an endearing, suspenseful, and sometimes surprising film. Beyond that, this is a movie that feels real. Not completely real, mind you, there is a certain level of "movie reality" but there is a real world reality to it where things like his can come out of nowhere and your life can be thrown into utter chaos.

The first half of the movie introduces us to our group of six. Eli Roth is referred to as nothing else but Gringo, he is a divorced father who has gone on vacation to Chile to get his groove back. He does the touristy night club thing with local pals Ariel (Ariel Lvy) and Pollo (Nicholas Martinez), the latter being a rich guy who tosses money around like it is nothing and has the look of Zach Galifianakis. I quite liked the Roth character, there is something genuine about the way he likes the tourist stuff and his awkwardness when talking to girls, including a scene with Selena Gomez in a cameo appearance. On the other side we meet Irina (Natasha Yarovenko), Kylie (Lorenza Izzo), and her sister Monica (Andrea Osvart).

We watch them have their nightclub introductions and talks about where they should go to find a real party. It is all pretty standard stuff. We learn bits about each of the characters, little pieces that masquerade as character development. It still feels genuine, if familiar. To be honest, the characters are not developed all that much. But how much development do you want? It isn't like you will get life stories from nigh club talk. For me, there is just the right amount to make some of them interesting and some of them worth caring about when the inevitable goes down.

When it all starts to happen, it ramps up and never looks back. There is he initial destruction, people dying around the club as the roof falls down around them. The six scramble to find a way out and soon find getting out is just the start. Once they make it to the streets, they are in the midst of chaos, looting, and riots, plus the news that the quake broke the prison open, spilling criminals into the streets.

Nothing is left out as our sextet frantically run through the streets. Their numbers obviously get thinned along the way. Their progress through the city actually had me wondering if they were going to kill everybody, it sure seemed that way.

Aftershock is a solidly entertaining film that takes its time to get things going, but does a good job of ramping up the danger and keeping the tension high. Lopez ad his team do a good Jon of getting a convincingly high level of damage for a film on the lower end of the budget scale. We are also treated to a surprisingly decent performance from Eli Roth. I am not sure I want to see him taking many acting jobs, would much rather he direct a bit more (I am curious about his upcoming Green Inferno).

I think something else hat works in the movies favor, for entertainment value at least, is how the look and feel borders the horror genre. Disaster films can be horrific, but this one is infused with Roth's style. I am sure he was giving his input during the shoot. There is a decidedly grimy feel, especially in the second half. It is mere steps away from being full blown horror.

In the end, Aftershock is a solid disaster/horror entry that gives a solid opening, even if it runs perhaps a beat or two too long. It delivers grueling and emotional disaster aftermath sequences and did keep me guessing in a couple of regards. It is not transcendent of its genre, but it mixes tropes of both genres effectively. Definitely worth checking out.


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