Dir. Nicolás López
Reviewer. Martyn Wakefield
When a film has Eli Roth attached to it, there will be blood, and plenty of it. Hostel gave birth to a franchise of modern day video nasty that has spawned a following not only of the sub-genre but of the director himself. Kickstarting his career with EVIL DEAD inspired modern classic, CABIN FEVER, Eli has yet to make a film that looks as butchered as his unlucky victims.
As an actor, things begin to change. Apart from a small turn in INGLORIOUS BASTERDS, his appearance in the ill-fated DON'T LOOK UP assured critics that Roth should stay firmly behind the camera. So now we have an Eli produced Chilean thriller and who should play the central character? Mr Blood and Guts himself.
Much like the holy grail that is ‘Hostel’, AFTERSHOCK may not have Eli in the directors seat, but it has him all over it. A film that plays a slow ballad of life and innocence and sees tourists Eli, Steve Coogan look-a-like Ariel (Ariel Levy) and Pollo, or Alan from THE HANGOVER (Nicolas Martinez) seek sun, clubs and ladies (pairing up with Latino lovelies Andrea Osvart, Natasha Yarovenko and Lorenzo Izzo) in the centre of Chile. Do not adjust your set, this is not the Chilean Hangover, the fun and jovial playboy antics do not last long as an Earthquake erupts and disaster ensues that not only affects the locale but the social landscape when ruthless prisoners escape.
Nicolas Lopez has captured a film of both beauty and a beast. Its opening chapter could have been the pilot for a latin AMERICAN PIE. Chapter 2 sees a disaster movie as good, if not better, than recent disaster (being the key word) movies like 2012 and THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW but it is the final act where Roth’s name becomes more relevant.
Not only do the ruthless gangs take charm from the likes of the vicious cannibals from cinema’s history but they hold no favourites travelling across the city taunting everyone in their way.
The greatest hits of cinema may seem a contrast too much for those seeking the flesh wounds and blood splattering mayhem that might be expected from the guy who produced ‘The Last Exorcism’, ‘Hostel’ and ‘2001 Maniacs’. A false start to put such a significant name on the cover of a film that bares little resemblance to its subject.
AFTERSHOCK crafts a great on screen chemistry that you can only help but feel for them when events turn nasty. Beautifully scored and married between its leads and its scenery, it’s hard not to complain at the beauty of AFTERSHOCK and for 45 minutes take on board the film as a travel brochure. Perhaps a little too long for a film that advertises itself as “the only thing more terrifying than Mother Nature, is human nature”. An apt tagline, if only it wasn’t brushed to the last 20 minutes.
But in those 20 minutes, there’s no holds barred as violence and anger plays the complete opposite to the travel brochure played out in the first act.
Perhaps not the greatest horror film of the year, neither the best disaster movie, nor the comedy of errors it begins. What AFTERSHOCK does is perfect story and characterisation and horrors of man that are more terrifying than anything that God can bring us. Roth has his stamp all over it in the final chapter and from small set pieces to the large SFX laden damage, Lopez puts his stamp on everyone’s to watch list.
Don’t expect a horror film and you will enjoy the first 45 minutes as much as the last. This is the complexity of film making and storytelling blended with perfection. Just sit back and watch as three happy go lucky guys go on the adventure of a lifetime.