I assume that Aftershock came into fruition as a result of a coke-addled writing binge Eli Roth went on with his friend Nicolás López. They spent a night high, yelling what sounded like brilliant ideas at one another. Make a scary movie about something that happened! Show how many people are really dying! Borrow the tourist element from Hostel! Borrow from real life! Oooh!
Aftershock stars Eli Roth, his character nicknamed Gringo by Ariel (Ariel Levy) and Pollo (Nicolás Martínez), his Chilean buddies. Gringo is an uncool middle-aged divorced dad vacationing in Chile, going to parties and nightclubs, and just trying to have a good time. He and his friends pick up a few girls — Russian model Irina (Natasha Yarovenko), party girl Kylie (Lorenza Izzo) and her sister Monica (Andrea Osvárt) — and coax the girls into accompanying them on a trip to the coastal city of Valparaíso. Unfortunately, once they arrive, the coast is shaken by a massive earthquake: destroying buildings, injuring countless people, and driving the remaining population of Valparaíso to madness in a struggle for survival.
Eli Roth isn’t exactly a good actor. But Eli Roth is good-looking. He’s made some good films, some good friends in Hollywood, and he’s proven himself as loyal to the horror genre. He’s not a bad filmmaker. In fact, the concept of Aftershock is legitimately good. It has the potential to be made into a good film. This is just nowhere near that film. Noooooooooo-where.
The first half of the film is devoted to watching these absolutely abhorrent people fraternize and flirt in posh dance clubs. Often, something I hear complained about in regards to horror films is a lack of character development. It’s all just hack and slash; you meet a group of young good-looking people, and then they get slaughtered. Recently filmmakers have been trying to correct this by making you spend 45 minutes with a bunch of retards who have a single character trait they are constantly announcing to the world around them. “I am a recently divorced single father!” “Well, I had an abortion once and now I’m irritable and sad!” I would like to take a vacation to this reality. I would walk around screaming: “I am a college graduate who can’t make any fucking money and watches too many movies! Where is the tourist club with the booze and the sex?!”
There is also a cameo by Selena Gomez in this film. It is as long and as captivating as this paragraph.
When the action finally starts, we’ve spent too much time with these awful people, and the movie makes the extraordinarily incorrect assumption that this means we now care about them. And, ohh boy, now all I want is to watch them get picked off. But when one does, you have to watch the characters mope and dote on it for ten boring minutes. Ten minutes of these people crying about the 30 second gore-splosion that you smiled and laughed at. It’s like a punishment. It’s like reverse rubberneck traffic. You look at that car that flopped over, and then you have to sit in traffic for half an hour.
But the real misstep here is that Aftershock is attempting to do something extremely difficult and failing at it. This is the case with most films that attempt to do this, because it’s a near impossible task, which is to make a splatter film upsetting. There is a disconnect in the viewer upon watching ridiculously over the top gore. Generally it’s not sadness or empathy they experience, it’s usually fun. That’s what splatter films are: fun. Splatter is a niche genre, and a film crafting a scene out of a dramatic splash of blood, torn limbs and mutilated bodies is normally one that is going to inspire glee in a viewer. Not misery. Splatter fans revel in this stuff, it’s a strange, perverse, enjoyable art. And much of the reason for that is in the fabrication. No one’s really getting hurt. So there’s no accountability, no sympathy, no reason to be sad. But when a film functions as a splatter film and also asks you to be sad, that’s a bit much.
A film like Hostel doesn’t request sadness, it asks for a visceral sympathy. It asks for your body to hurt when you imagine being tortured. Aftershock asks you to feel bad. And I don’t. I want to watch that nice lady’s head snap back and laugh like a maniac, like I did. And then I was embarrassed for a fraction of a second, but upon realizing I wasn’t alone in my laughter in that theater, I just realized it was a bad film making a terrible mistake. I was badass as ever.
I will also inform you that this film features a rape, which is addressed as terribly as everything else Aftershock attempts to address. This scene is insulting, mostly because of the misogynistic tones of the rest of the stupid movie. I’m not one to object to a film simply for featuring a rape sequence, especially a horror film. It’s embedded in the genre, metaphorically and literally, and you know what, rape is a terrifying concept. But this movie does it wrong, punishing its female characters merely for being female. Although the film doesn’t sexualize its female characters as blatantly as many others do, they are depicted as weak, helpless people. Eli Roth trapped under a rock is treated as a stronger character than any of the girls, as he manages to give advice and throw things.
And seriously, in this film, tattoos mean that you are an evil escaped rapist from a Chilean prison. This is an essential plot point of the film. This is the year 2013. Everyone has tattoos.
So, in conclusion, Aftershock is a really bad movie. It lost Cannes. It didn’t even get accepted into Cannes. It’s playing at Sundance or something. I’m pretty sure it’s not even going to make it to theaters, so I don’t even have to warn you to avoid it. Suck my dick.