If you are a fan of modern horror, then no doubt you have heard the name Eli Roth at least once. He directed "Hostel" in 2005 and "Cabin Fever" prior in 2002. He produced "Hostel Part II" in 2007. In my opinion, the best thing he's been apart of was producing "The Last Exorcism" in 2010. He's good at what he does, and he seems like a wicked cool dude.
This isn't a typical Eli Roth story though, Roth produced the Nicholas Lopez directed "Aftershock," a movie which was released last year in Chile, but made its American debut this summer. "Aftershock" is a big, loud, sometimes goofy, sometimes gory, often confused disaster flick. I think Lopez has a very good eye when focused properly. I will definitely want to look him up and check out his other work. I wonder if his later filmography works better than "Aftershock" does.
The film begins pretty well. We follow Ariel (Ariel Levy) and Pollo (Nicolas Martinez) two best friends who are showing Ariel's American friend Gringo (Eli Roth) a good time-Chile style. They go to all of the country's hottest clubs, try to pick up girls, then wake up early to go to Chile's vineyards. The first thirty minutes of the movie have some funny things in them. I was impressed that we got to learn about the characters in detailed ways. Pollo is the son of a rich Chilean and he has the best connections to the party hotspots in the country. Ariel's story revolves around the girl that got away, and no matter which girl comes along to woo him, he's still hung up on his ex. Gringo is an American who is way out of his element. He wants to meet girls, but he has no game and doesn't seem to understand Chilean women.
It's a decent opening, and eventually the male trio meets a female trio. Two Hungarian half-sisters Monica (Andrea Osvart) and Kylie (Lorenza Izzo). The sisters have a rough relationship as Monica makes sure Kylie doesn't do anything she'll regret, but Kylie hates her sister in mom figure mode. The sisters have a Russian friend Irina (Natasha Yarovenko) who seems to have a connection to Gringo. They all hang out, and we begin to have a sincere, often humorous little party movie.
That all changes once the earthquake hits. As people begin to die or injured by the disaster, there were still some comedic beats which made me laugh quite a bit. But after the earthquake hits, this movie moves from funny disaster movie, to gritty disaster movie. And I am not quite sure how well I think the transition works. The movie feels genre confused, and I don't know if that's really a good thing. I have liked dramatic comedy's and horror comedy's in the past, but I can't say "Aftershock" qualifies for any of those sub-genres. I think Lopez does a great job in the directors chair, I just wished he either kept up with the gags or committed to the seriousness of the movie's last-half tone.
Really. We go from watching six new friends have fun, make us laugh, and the audience gets to really know the characters. Then all of a sudden, the movie hits survival mode. Women get raped, people are tortured and burned alive, and other characters kill each other out of paranoia. All for an ending that pulls a grimly funny punchline. By the end of the film, I didn't really understand what Lopez tried to accomplish with this film, and that annoys me. Plus, this maybe just me, but I am getting really annoyed by the misuse of rape in movies. How come when something bad needs to happen to a female character in movies like this, that they always need to be raped?
Selena Gomez has a cameo in this. And even though she's onscreen for maybe twenty seconds, it felt forced and stupid. Gomez is trying really hard to be hardcore and I find it seriously sad. Seriously, Ms. Gomez, your not hot, you still look like a teenager. And doing all this adult stuff doesn't change the fact that more than half your fan-base is from your Disney days. Stop trying to be hip, its not working.
Overall, if Lopez stuck with one tone, I feel "Aftershock" could have been stronger overall. But the movie is seems too confused to figure out what genre it wants to be. And that definitely annoyed me while I watched this thing. I think I still want to keep an eye out for Lopez though, because I think once he makes his career masterpiece, it will be piercing indeed.
FINAL GRADE: C-