Aftershock is an interesting film, in as much as it’s part disaster
film, part horror film, and when it’s really working, it’s completely effective
as both. It takes place in Santiago, Chile over the course of a few days, and
it stars Eli Roth as a character known only as Gringo.
Gringo is in Chile with a
friend Ariel (Ariel Levy) and Ariel’s best friend, Pollo (Nicolas Martinez). We
are introduced to these three dancing at a club, where by the end of the night
Gringo has passed out. The next day they are touring a vineyard, and that night
visiting another club. We learn through a phone call that Gringo has a young
daughter, and that he plans on being home in two days. He hits on a woman named
Irina (Natasha Yarovenko), who gets a call from her own child, and so Gringo
tells her he has a daughter. “I’m not
surprised,” the woman says. “You’re
dressed like a dad.” Gringo responds, “Ha
ha ha, fuck you,” and Eli Roth’s delivery on that line is perfect.
Irina is there with,
coincidentally, two female friends – Kylie and Monica, who are sisters. So the
three guys and three girls hook up, spending the next day together (driving
around in some kind of SUV that has fire painted on the sides and hood –
uh-oh). They enjoy the day – sight-seeing, eating, swimming (seen mostly in
montage). And there are some comedic moments, like when they get stuck
momentarily in a funicular and Gringo says: “Jews are not meant for tragedy. We don’t handle it well.” They also
go to a cemetery where we learn of underground tunnels where priests and nuns
would meet for sex. If you’re thinking all of this will come into play later,
you are correct.
But the thing is you
actually get caught up in the fun these characters are having, so that that
night when they’re at another club, and disaster strikes, it actually comes as
a surprise. Even with the film’s title, and knowing what is coming, the actual
earthquake, when it occurs, catches you off guard. Like Eli Roth’s Hostel, the first part of this film is
about meeting girls and having fun. And then a third of the way through, when
things go wrong, the movie immediately gets intense, and really doesn’t let up.
One of the guys is very
seriously injured while helping someone else at the club. And there are a lot
of shocks, all of which seem realistic in the face of the earthquake. They make
it out of the club, but there is destruction all around, including that of
their vehicle. (That’s what you get for painting flames on the side of an SUV.)
Things are very tense, but the troubles have just begun. A siren warns of an
imminent tsunami, and the earthquake has freed several prisoners who are now
looting and terrorizing people in the area. Yes, this film does show the worst
There are a lot of
surprises, which I appreciate. But there is one twist near the end that I
really dislike, and doesn’t exactly make sense considering the character. I can’t say what it is without
spoiling things, so let me just say that not everyone who has been in prison is
necessarily completely evil.
The DVD includes a few
bonus features, including a commentary track by Eli Roth and Nicolas Lopez.
They talk about how they met, and about the cast. The shots of the first two
parties were done at real parties, which is incredible, especially considering
the opening shot of the second party, which follows a girl in and then turns
around, catching a good amount of the location. The club they’re in when the
earthquake hits was actually damaged in the 2010 earthquake. They talk about
the T-shirts, such as how Pollo’s shirt actually foreshadows a later scene in
the film. The funicular anecdote is pretty amusing. Also amusing is the
anecdote of the director’s special cameo in the film. The commentary track also
briefly features Lorenza Izzo on the phone.
There is also “The Making
Of Aftershock,” which is just under ten minutes, and includes bits of
interviews with Nicolas Lopez, Eli Roth, Ariel Levy, Andrea Osvart, and Lorenza
Izzo. Nicolas Lopez talks about the real earthquake in Chile in 2010 which he
experienced. He says he was interested in the randomness of life. He also talks
about using practical effects rather than relying on computer graphics. There
is also some behind-the-scenes footage.
The other bonus feature
is “Shaking Up The Casting Process,” which begins with a couple of title cards
about how there are lots of earthquakes in Chile. “The 2010 earthquake had a magnitude of 8.8 on the Richter scale.”
Then while actors are changing, they replicate an earthquake and film their
reactions. This is completely shitty
(especially considering that some of them likely experienced the 2010
earthquake). I wish the actors had just let go and punched the woman who
finally told them it was a joke. Not to mention that
filming them in a dressing room is by itself reprehensible. This special
feature is only two minutes long, but it put me in a foul mood.
Aftershock was written by Nicolas Lopez, Eli Roth and Guillermo
Amoedo, and was directed by Nicolas Lopez.
It is scheduled to be released on DVD on August 6, 2013 through Anchor