Grimy and well-performed, this seedy tale of one man's road to redemption showcases Sam Trammell's abilities.
The Aftermath (Dances With Films Review)
Far too often, it seems that the term “drug thriller” is code for “Scarface rip-off,” which follows the decline of a rich, usually Colombian, kingpin in dull, cookie-cutter fashion. Rarely, it seems, do filmmakers take the road less traveled and tell the story from the perspective of a drug addict. Tim McCann’s The Aftermath does precisely that.
After separating from his wife, Sonny (Sam Trammell) turns to drug use to ease the pain. Addicted, but hoping to make amends, Sonny reaches out to all of those close to his wife in hopes of giving her a necklace on their anniversary. Before he has the chance to do so, however, the piece of jewelry is stolen by a violent pimp. With all other purpose in his life gone, Sonny sets forth on a journey through a brutal criminal underbelly in order to retrieve his wife’s necklace—regardless of the consequences.
Thanks to a commanding performance from Sam Trammell (True Blood), The Aftermath does an incredible job of humanizing a lying, cheating drug addict. There’s no debate about it, Sonny isn’t a particularly likable character. He isn’t rotten to his core, but he certainly isn’t a guy you’d want hanging around. McCann takes this anti-hero and unapologetically thrusts viewers into his world. Though the film isn’t ultra-violent, nor does it feature a large body count, there is a genuine sense of danger present throughout The Aftermath. Nobody appears to be invincible; anyone and everyone could be killed off at the drop of a hat. Much like McMann’s highly underrated mystery film The Poker Club, The Aftermath takes an unlikely protagonist and places him in an unfamiliar, crime-filled situation. And just like in The Poker Club, the result is a thoroughly interesting, occasionally suspenseful, and at all times well-crafted thriller.
One of the more unique aspects of The Aftermath is its soundtrack, which includes classic ‘50s-style tunes as well as hypnotic, synth-heavy pop tracks. The music is tonally all over the place, but each selection fits brilliantly with its corresponding scene. The music just serves to up the energy of the wild journey The Aftermath encompasses. Sonny’s quest takes him through vastly different areas over the course of the film’s 83-minute running time, including strip clubs, residential neighborhoods, sleazy motel rooms, crack houses, and desolate streets. He is welcomed nowhere—an especially interesting aspect of his character—and no matter where Sonny’s journey takes him, he is seen as an outsider; a vagrant; a junkie. As a result, The Aftermath is somewhat bleak, as Sonny’s literal struggle for some sense of redemption from past wrongs is brutal and unrelenting.
Warm cinematography from director of photography Alan McIntyre Smith gives the film a hazy, almost sticky aesthetic. Everyone appears to be covered in so much sweat and dirt that you can almost smell the body odor through the screen. If the subject matter isn’t seedy enough, the onscreen images will have you wanting to take a shower after the credits begin to roll. There’s no John Waters-esque dirtiness on display, but the griminess of The Aftermath is truly disgusting at times.
The Aftermath is a truly fascinating little indie movie; a completely different kind of adventure film, and one that certainly holds attention. In a world of cheesy drug thrillers and crime romps, The Aftermath keeps things subtle and serious, mixing a story of the perils of addiction with an almost neo-noir attitude. With a deceptive amount of twists and turns, Tim McMann’s latest movie is a completely effective, completely engrossing time at the cinema.