Aftershock has made its intentions clear that it has no ambition to be anything more than pure exercise in the thriller genre.
The new horror-thriller Aftershock is not be directed by Eli Roth (Nicolas Lopez is the director), but make no mistake, this is an Eli Roth picture. Roth is credited as writer, producer and star of this Chilean set film about survivors trying to navigate a decimated Santiago after a massive earthquake strikes the capital city. Unfortunately, poor execution ruins the excellent concept behind the film.
Aftershock begins when we meet Gringo (Eli Roth) as he raves the night away at a massive dance party on the outskirts of the city. He’s in town on a getaway from Los Angeles after a nasty divorce leaves his life in shambles. Gringo has some friends in the South American capital where he is staying at and they are intent on distracting him from his issues back home.
The following day Gringo and his friends hit up another nightclub in the city and end up meeting a couple of young women who immediately take to the men. Together they all tour the beautiful sights that populate the city; from the old, majestic graveyards to big mountain bluffs that overlook the immense metropolis. These scenes go on for so long I felt like I accidentally put on an episode of Rick Steves tour episodes from PBS.
The massive earthquake finally hits around the half-way point in the film. When it does the group must decipher their way through the mystifying maze of rubble and debris without having a cell phone signal. And if that was not bad enough, Aftershock adds in an interesting idea, but for me it doesn’t really pan out. A group of bloodthirsty inmates from a local penitentiary break out and begin to wreck even more havoc upon the survivors. What began as a tale of survival has now become a silly chase movie.
All of this is reasonable since Aftershock has made its intentions clear that it has no ambition to be anything more than pure exercise in the thriller genre. What is wrong with the picture is that all of it is undermined by the film’s poor execution. For such a big scale idea, the film looks and feels very cheap. Another thing that was in the wrong was how long the film spent setting up its story and characters. This would have been fine if the film actually got the audience to care about the characters, but sadly Aftershock doesn’t. When a character dies, I just didn’t care. As you can probably tell from this review, Gringo is the only character that you have any concern for, which makes everyone else that appears rather meaningless.
As a whole, the performances in Aftershock are only fine, but I do have to admit that I was rather impressed that Roth has improved on his acting skills from when he first started to act. The other performances in Aftershock are merely serviceable. It’s too bad Roth wasn’t backed up with a better overall production. And don’t even get me started on the ridiculous ending.