Review by Jude Felton
Love him, hate him, or be completely indifferent, there’s no denying Eli Roth’s impact on the horror genre. Sure, he had a little help along the way, but he’s dragged it kicking and screaming into the more mainstream consciousness; especially with the Hostel franchise. Often credited, or discredited, with being one of those that brought torture porn horror into the world (did everyone else miss the cinema of the 70s’?), he’s one busy bee, and Aftershock is his latest foray into horror.
This time, however, it is not as director, and is instead as co-writer, producer and star, in this savage little number set in Chile. Roth stars as Gringo, an American tourist who is partying it up in Santiago, along with a couple of Chilean friends. All he wants is to have fun and find some lady action, but to no avail.
This all takes a serious backseat though when an earthquake hits, whilst they are in an underground nightclub, and it all becomes a fight for survival. Gringo and his buddies, along with the girls they are with, soon find themselves in a world of real horror. Not only do they have to contend with the earthquake itself, they also find themselves up against the nastier side of human nature.
Aftershock is not a million miles away from Roth’s Hostel flicks. In fact you could quite easily say that it’s Hostel with an earthquake, such is the tone of the film; this is bleak and brutal viewing. The humor and party atmosphere of the beginning of the film is soon replaced with a much darker, and bloodier, movie. Whether or not I can say I enjoyed it is more difficult to say. Aftershock is certainly well made, and it does move along at a decent pace; however it is a movie that will beat you down with its air of menace and dread.
I certainly didn’t dislike the film, I just think it is a case of having to watch it in the right frame of mind; I have to emphasize it really is a very dark film. Of course, there is nothing light-hearted about an earthquake, but this shows a really dark side of human nature, one which comes to the fore all too quickly. The fact that majority of the action takes place over the course of one night did make me wonder. Would people resort to such barbarism so quickly after an event like this? Maybe I am looking too deeply into what is essentially a simple horror tale.
Director Nicolas Lopez has delivered a nasty little film that really does face human horror head-on, and with that has delivered a very effective horror film. Maybe it does veer a little too close to Hostel territory, in its basic premise, to really be all that original, but the cast are fairly solid and the action comes thick and fast. Aftershock certainly isn’t mainstream horror, as it is far too dark for that, but as a calling card for Lopez, and a descent into what humans are capable of, it does the job remarkably well.
Anchor Bay and Radius TWC, who release the Blu-ray, have included a few extras on the disc; the most interesting being the audio commentary from Roth and Lopez. It’s also a fine looking disc, with the onscreen carnage looking nice and sharp.
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from Aftershock, having heard both positive and negative comments, before I saw it, but I certainly wasn’t disappointed with it. If an incredibly bleak and brutal movie is what you are looking for, with decent production values, then you could do a lot worse than to check out Aftershock. Just don’t watch it if you are feeling depressed, as it will not do anything to improve your frame of mind!
Aftershock is released on Blu-ray and DVD by Anchor Bay and Radius TWC on August 6th.