Aftershock, is the new film that was Co-Written, produced by and stars Eli Roth. Had he not been involved, I’m sure a Chilean disaster/horror hybrid wouldn’t have gotten nearly the amount of attention that it did. When it was released to ON DEMAND, we covered the film for our Dead Air Podcast series. You can listen to that episode here. Some of us were looking forward to this movie(me), but I think the reason we ended up covering it, is that despite whether or not you loved it or hated it, Aftershock is sort of an important film to watch, especially if you are fan of Eli Roth’s previous features. As some of you know, Roth has returned to the director’s chair with The Green Inferno, and considering that he’s working with a lot of the same people he worked with on Aftershock, I think it’s pretty safe to say that this is an early example of what to expect from the “flavor” of, at least Roth’s upcoming film, if not beyond that.
In Aftershock, we’re treated to a formula somewhat similar to the first Hostel film. A group of friends are vacationing together in Chile, hitting various nightclubs, and trying(some desperately) to get laid. After it lingers a while with characters, to allow us to learn a little bit about each of them, the proverbial shit hits the fan in a BIG way. A massive earthquake literally tears the roof off the sucka. Carnage ensues, bodies are disfigured, incarcerated rapists and murderers are on the streets, characters we have been subtly convinced were safe from harm, are eviscerated. By the third act, almost every character you will have assumed would make it through to the end will be gone. That’s one of the stronger aspects of Aftershock, in my opinion. The way it presents to you the characters, in an almost cliche fashion, and then sort of turns that on its head and leaves you actually wondering who will be left standing, really elevated my experience.
Some of you that are reading this, I have no doubts, are going to hate this film. And that’s extremely unfortunate. It seems in the digital age, if it’s not epic and mold-breaking, it’s not worth watching in the public eye. Meanwhile we look back at some great, and some truly terrible films of the past with a nostalgic eye, and exonerate it of all of the same sins we’re tearing down new films for today. I wish we could get back to a time where people just enjoyed watching movies, good or bad. I’ve seen so many movies in my lifetime that, unless it’s a straight up cinematic abortion, there has to be at least something redeeming about a film, especially one that actually takes the time to do things a little differently, even if it’s minor, like switching the “who lives and who dies” formula up, like they did with Aftershock.
For me, Aftershock was one of the strongest “smaller” genre releases in 2013. It really hit the spot for me. I am a huge fan of almost everything Eli Roth has done. Okay, I’m a huge fan of ALL of the things that Eli Roth has done. People hate on him, almost as much as they hate on Rob Zombie. These are the two “triggerword” names, where if you mention enjoying somewhere on the internet, you are bound to be assaulted by people that don’t even recognize that they have become a bad parody of The Simpsons’ Comic Book Guy. I have always loved the slow-building formula. I love being introduced to a set of characters, hanging out with them for an extended period of time, and then watching them meet their doom. That’s why films like Hostel, The House Of The Devil, The Roost etc. work so well for me. If films such as that have the same impact on you, it’s highly likely that you will enjoy Aftershock, at least somewhat.
There are a couple of things that you might have to forgive, such as the occasional spot of less-than-stellar acting. Don’t get me wrong, almost everyone involved, including Eli Roth turned in a competent performance, but there are a few minor examples of “hamming it up”. It’s nothing that should destroy your enjoyment of the film in my opinion, though. Also, there is a fairly extended rape scene in the movie. It’s not overly graphic, but the way it is presented is a little bit disturbing? Is it gratuitous? Perhaps, but, in context it makes sense. An earthquake has allowed a prison full of rapists and murderers to roam the streets amidst the chaos, what are they going to do, NOT rape and murder? So, if you feel like rape has no business whatsoever in any film, for any reason, you may find problems with that. But, that’s kind of a silly critique in my opinion. Not every usage of rape as a plot device is perpetuating the “rape culture”. Aftershock is no I Spit On Your Grave, not in any way.
The first time I watched Aftershock was in HD on Video On Demand. And, while it did look good in that format, I wasn’t prepared for the boost in picture quality I would witness when watching it on Blu Ray. I expected it to look pretty much the same. This was an extremely good looking Blu Ray release. Colors, of which there are many different schemes, pop really well. The detail soars past satisfactory and lands somewhere around spectacular. The DTSHD-MA 5.1 track is impressive as well. The sound of crumbling concrete and tsunami sirens filled every corner of my living room. There isn’t a huge list of extras on the disc, but you do get a few little behind-the-scenes featurettes, such as a casting extra and a “making of” doc. There is also a feature commentary with Eli Roth, and director Nocolas Lopez. Aftershock is being released to DVD and Blu Ray on August 6th, from Starz/Anchor Bay and TWC Radius. You can currently pre-order the Blu Ray for under $15 here.