‘Aftershock’ (2012) Review

Eli Roth, Ariel Levy and Andrea Osvart in Aftershock
Eli Roth, Ariel Levy and Andrea Osvart in Aftershock
Photo: Dimension Films

When compiling a list of the worst films of 2012 I will be sure to make special note of Nicolas Lopez’s Aftershock, a film I truly wish I could erase from my memory. If this film was supposed to be funny I missed the punchline. If it was supposed to be scary I must not be easily scared. One thing I did catch, however, was a woman being raped multiple times only to later be shot in the back after being rescued. Yes, I did manage to catch that bit of depravity. Question though, was that supposed to make me laugh? Was I supposed to be scared? Am I supposed to find entertainment in such a scene? I’m so confused.

The title is in reference to an earthquake that takes place while an American affectionately referred to as Gringo (Eli Roth) by his two Chilean friends — Pollo (Nicolas Martínez) and Ariel (Ariel Levy) — is vacationing in Chile and the trio end up in a night club in Valparaiso. This earthquake, however, doesn’t happen until 40 torturous minutes into the film, for most of which we’ve been subjected to Eli Roth‘s attempts to act and it isn’t going to get any better.

Gringo, Pollo and Ariel move from clubs to outdoor raves before eventually arriving in Valparaiso where they find what they’ve been looking for in Monica (Andrea Osvart who just so happens to look almost exactly like Carey Mulligan), Kylie (Lorenza Izzo) and Irina (Natasha Yarovenko). For those of you that notice Selena Gomez‘s name in the cast list, she has about a ten second scene as Roth attempts to hit on her. And yeah, there is something creepy about the 40-year-old man hitting on a 20-year-old girl if you were wondering about that as well.

Getting back to the story, unfortunately, just as the party is getting started, an earthquake hits. The roof is caving in, hands are chopped off, people are squashed under concrete and the film won’t be the same. No sir, now instead of being a monotonous club-hopping romp we are now subjected to 50 minutes of torture.

As the six try and escape and make their way into the chaotic streets, one of the film’s several ridiculous lines is uttered as a police officer on horseback clip-clops in and says, “The prison has crumbled, the inmates have escaped. Get into your homes or you’ll be arrested.”

Let’s consider this for a second. An earthquake just decimated the area and homes are crumbling all around and the police are suggesting the people go home? What home are they going to go to? And if the inmates have escaped why would you arrest the normal citizens panicking over the natural disaster that just happened? Why not go get the convicts that are running loose? After all, you only have to follow our protagonists to find some.

Once our six heroes begin to find their way they fall prey to a group of these inmates, carrying guns and ready to do a little raping. With that in mind, where anyone would find any kind of enjoyment in the latter half of the movie is beyond me. For those that don’t want spoilers you may want to skip the next three paragraphs, for the others, let me go over a scene in a little closer detail and you can help me find the entertainment in it…

First, a large chunk of concrete falls on one character, he’s trapped and coughing up blood. While a few members of the group run off to find help (which is laughable in and of itself), two girls stay behind, but when the inmates come lurking around the corner they try and hide, leaving our helpless victim alone under a rock. The leader of these baddies pours a bottle of alcohol on him and threaten to burn him alive if he doesn’t tell them where the girls went. After some coercing he actually gives away where they are!

One girl tries to escape while the other remains hidden. The one that tried to run is caught and the leader sends his boys around the corner while he rapes her. Waiting until he’s done raping the girl, the trapped man attempts to hit him with a rock to no avail, causing the inmate to set him on fire. He burns to death. The inmates come back around the corner, the leader hands the girl off to another guy and it’s at this moment the other girl (whom the bad guys didn’t even know was there) tries to run, they chase after her while one inmate stays behind and has his turn raping the girl.

This is when the group of friends that went for help return and see the man raping the girl. Before intervening, they first consider running away, but ultimately think better of it. One man attacks and chops the rapist down with an ax. The day has been saved! But wait, the inmates return and as the girl that has now been raped twice is running away, she’s shot in the back and dies. Yes, she is raped, watches a man burn to death, is raped, saved and then shot in the back. As Maximus would say, “Are you not entertained?!?!”

I was jealous of the several critics that stood up and walked out, many around the 45 minute mark as it appeared they only had the stamina to wait for the earthquake to take place and hope it got better. It doesn’t. Listening to Roth read lines such as, “Pollo, the tsunami is coming, we have to get going,” is almost too painful to write. The inmates, upon seeing the three girls say, “Look at those girls. Get ’em!” Ugh.

There were moments when my small audience laughed, I am assuming more at the film than with it, because if any of this is supposed to be comical, like I said, I missed the punchline.

Aftershock is a travesty of a film and one I recommend you stay as far away from as you can. Why Dimension Films decided to pick this up I will never know. Maybe the direct-to-video market is that lucrative, but you can rest assured you’ll never see me recommending it to anyone.

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