Aftershock (2012)

Crimson Quill’s Appraisal #353

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Number of Views: One
Release Date: September 11, 2012 (TIFF), May 10, 2013 (United States)
Sub-Genre: Disaster Movie
Country of Origin: United States, Chile
Budget: $2,000,000
Running Time: 89 minutes
Director: Nicolás López
Producers: Eli Roth, Brian Oliver, Miguel Asensio
Screenplay: Eli Roth, Nicolàs López, Guillermo Amoedo
Special Effects: Felipe Figueroa
Visual Effects: Ismael Cabrera, Rodrigo Rojas Echaiz, Eduardo Squella
Cinematography: Antonio Quercia
Score: Manuel Riviero
Editing: Diego Macho Gómez
Studios: Cross Creek Pictures, Dragonfly Entertainment
Distributors: Dimension Films, RADiUS-TWC
Stars: Eli Roth, Andrea Osvárt, Ariel Levy, Natasha Yarovenko, Nicolás Martínez, Lorenza Izzo, Marcial Tagle, Ramón Llao, Ignacia Allamand, Paz Bascuñan, Matías López, Patricio Strahovsky, Álvaro López Álvarez, Adrián Salgado, Enrique Quiroz, Orlando Alfaro, Dayana Amigo, Eduardo Domínguez, Selena Gomez

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Suggested Audio Candy:

Carole King I Feel The Earth Move

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Have you ever had one of those really shitty days? You know; the ones which start with placing your bare foot down on a plate of linguine, move swiftly into the bathroom only to find the toilet roll depleting during your morning bowel movement, then gain downward momentum from there. By midday your car has broken down on a bustling freeway, your cat Tiddles has been run over by a garbage truck by three thirty, and supper consists of a smattering of food poisoning followed by shitting through the eye of a needle before bedtime, only to remember you didn’t replace the toilet roll earlier. Those kind of days y’know?

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You can bitch about your ill fortune all you like but it isn’t bringing Tiddles back. Best then to consider those less fortunate than yourselves; grab a little perspective, and feel thankful just for being alive, albeit doubled up with crippling tummy cramps and smeared in your own feces. Alternatively, you could spare a thought for the cast of Aftershock, as they’re quite possibly the most hapless bunch of motherfuckers ever to travel south of the border. In the history of days you’d rather forget, theirs ranks way into the upper echelons. Even Alison Lohman was penalized less after refusing Mrs Ganush that bank loan and we all know where she ended up.

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Aftershock came to fruition as a result of a conversation between Eli Roth and director Nicolàs López about the devastating Chilean earthquake of 2010. In particular, they were fascinated about the aftershock and by that I mean the consequent collapse of society in the ensuing panic. It can admittedly be a mystifying turn of events but one which is all too familiar as even the most upstanding of citizens can vacate their hinges when tragedy strikes, particularly if law and order is no longer easily marshalled and survival is of the fittest. However, the fact that that tragic natural disaster is still so fresh in so many perpetually tormented minds meant that kit gloves would be required when retelling such a traumatic event.

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Roth is known for many things but kit gloves ain’t one of them. This inglourious basterd made his grand name with splatter favorites like Cabin Fever and Hostel Parts 1 & 2 and is a horror director first and foremost. With a modest $2m budget at their disposal, it would be nigh-on impossible to replicate the true scale of the catastrophe thus any helicopter shots featured were filmed without permits, in areas actually ravaged by Mother Nature’s ruination. The result is a most curious piece of film-making whose tremors are a less than gentle reminder of the overarching picture; where the focus is primarily on human depravity and how we lose our heads in the event of cataclysm.

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The structure of Aftershock calls to mind the two immensely differing halves that made up Hostel. The opening act plus change is all about the hedonism and comes across as vaguely akin to Todd Phillips’ own glorious disaster movie The Hangover. Speaking of which, Nicolás Martínez who plays Pollo looks suspiciously like Zach Galifianakis and is similarly cantankerous. He knocks back the shots, ogles anything in a skirt short enough to determine haircut, and takes pictures of his ball sack, while buddies Gringo (Roth) and Ariel (Ariel Levy) do the same minus the selfie of their testicles.

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After a couple of epic fails, the trio snag Hungarian half-sisters Monica (Andrea Osvart) and Kylie (Lorenza Izzo), and Kylie’s friend Irina (Natasha Yarovenko) and soon they’ve convinced the girls to extend their stay and it’s off to an underground nightclub for more of the same. Some may find this protracted segment to drag but, while The Hangover it sure as shit shards isn’t, such characterization is welcome and the protagonists are, by and large, a good-natured troop. It’s a shame the same can’t be said for the locals. This lot would likely do for the Chilean tourist trade what Hostel did for Slovakian self-catering vacationing.

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Once that first tremor hits, Aftershock kicks into an altogether brisker gear and it becomes about survival and clambering topside before the nightclub’s foundations capitulate. So we’re precariously in disaster movie territory right? Briefly yes but, once any preliminary dust settles and the survivors make it back on terra firma, the freaks come out. These infidels would give Snake Plissken the ache; from bag-snatching vagrants to gun-toting rapscallions, and even the emergency services have somewhat questionable intentions. It’s a free for all; complete with rape, murder, and of course that impending tsunami looming overhead the whole time.

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Bonus marks are awarded by Keeper for a distinct lack of inevitability ironically enough. Key players are snuffed out unceremoniously and nobody’s safekeeping is a given. As for anything resembling luck; well they’re shit out of it as the fast-depleting group stumble from one perilous situation to another. The ending meanwhile had me coughing up a lung but I shall leave that priceless pleasure for others to experience for themselves. Aftershock is not a great movie by any stretch of the imagination but it is a competent one and is never culpable of growing stale. It’s uneven, often preposterous, supremely mean-spirited, and not the most delicate to tackle such tragedy. But it is some rumble.

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Crimson Quill’s Judgement: 7/10

Grue Factor: 3/5

For the Grue-Guzzlers: Note to self. If ever traipsing around a sewer network, don’t be first through the manhole cover on exit. Heads are smashed, limbs crushed, faces burned, hands misplaced, kicked around a little, and then snatched, body parts impaled, caps popped in asses, axes plunged into chests, and I’m still only skimming the custard. Nevertheless it was trimmed to achieve an R-rating and never lingers too long on its injury detail. Dagnabbit. Thankfully, practical effects are largely prefered to CGI and, for the most part, they’re up to snuff.

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