The Aftershock is Bad, but Wait Til You Get to That Final Shot.

Main cast: Eli Roth and Andrea Osvart

Director: Nicolas Lopez

As much as I bet Eli Roth is, as a horror fan, a blast to hang out with, if he ever invited me on a trip somewhere with him, I would have to politely decline. If the Hostel movies weren’t bad enough, now he comes in with Aftershock, a 2012 movie written by Guillermo Amoedo (from a story by Roth) and directed by Nicolas Lopez in which a group of partiers in Valparaiso, Chile get caught in the aftermath of an 8.8 earthquake.

Gringo (Eli Roth), Ariel (Ariel Levy) and Pollo (Nicolas Martinez) are on vacation when they run into Hungarians Monica (Andrea Osvart), Kylie (Lorenza Izzo) and Irina (Natasha Yarovenko). They convince the girls to party with them that night, then go with them to see Valparaiso the next day. While at a club the next night, a massive earthquake hits and the six must first try to escape the crumbling nightclub, then get to safety; as if the earthquake weren’t bad enough, now there’s the threat of a tsunami.

But getting to safety isn’t the easiest thing in the world. With the earthquake and the chaos that follows, all societal rules are thrown away, especially after a local prison collapses, setting free its inmate population who, seeing the Hungarians running past, decide they like what they see.

What follows is a hellish night of narrow escapes and nonstop terror, and, unfortunately, not everyone will make it out alive.

I chose this movie for 2 reasons. First, I like Roth as an actor and I don’t think he stars in enough movies. An odd unaccredited appearance here and there is cool, but I wanted to see him with a bigger part and see how he handled it. And I’m happy to say, he’s a much better actor than I think he gets credit for.

Second, I wanted to see it because I like movies about survival against impossible odds. I like them because most stories like that are going to be a series of incidents broken up into individual scenes and the writer in me wants to see how other people handle these situations. How do the characters get from Point A to Point Z, what rigors were they put through and how natural did the progression of those events feel. And judging by the synopsis for this movie–a group of parties get caught underground during an earthquake only to discover surviving the aftermath is the real challenge–that’s exactly the kind of movie this was going to be.

On the negative side, that’s exactly what this movie was. And I know that’s what I was looking for, but a little depth of character would have been nice too. Or something. The story here is, just as I suspected, plot point a fits into plot point b fits into plot point c, sometimes with the help of a little dose–or in the case of the fireman who pulled double duty as a major plot device twice–a BIG dose of coincidence. Aftershock may have been a good movie, but it was damned shallow as well.

One thing it isn’t is dull. Even though we don’t get to the earthquake until over half an hour in and all that time leading up is just watching these guys party and hang out, there’s always something happening, something for the eye to focus on.

I’m not sure I’d classify this one as horror, though. Sure, there’s blood and chaos and people dying left and right, all horrible things, but given everything in here stems from a natural disaster … I don’t know, I just feel weird calling a movie a horror movie when nothing is done here out of any kind of malice. Nature didn’t target this town, it just happened. Yes, the escaped prisoners intent on raping and killing is terrible, man-made horror, but this movie isn’t about a gang of escaped prisoners out to rape and kill, that’s a side effect of the real issue, which is this earthquake happened and this is what came next. And, unfortunately, because people are the way they are, what came next was looting, rioting, and people being evil to each other. But, to me, that’s not a horror movie. It’s a disaster movie with relatively real-life consequences.

However, because producer and star Eli Roth is the horror guy, this MUST be a horror movie, even though it really isn’t.

It is a good one, though, genre notwithstanding. I can easily recommend it, but only if you go into it knowing it’s all surface stuff. Once you meet the characters and sink yourself into the situation, that’s about as deep into this movie as you’re going to get, because there’s nothing here other than those first impressions. After that it’s all about running through the streets of Valparaiso trying not to get killed.

If I had to judge this one strictly as a horror movie, I’d say it’s average at best. It’s just not scary. But there’s plenty of action, lots of great effects, and I liked the acting a lot. So what if it’s a little falsely advertised, Aftershock is still a pretty decent movie.

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