Aftershock review (DVD)

Roth seems to want to do every job possible on a film. So far we have had the director, the actor, the producer, the writer and the musician, which appears to make him a jack-of-all-trades. But he has not yet become master of those trades and judging by his recent output, that probably won’t change. On Aftershock he is producer, actor and also gets  the credit "presented by" (what does that mean anyway?), so has several fingers in the pie.

Aftershock follows three lads – Pollo (Martinez), Ariel (Levy) and Gringo (Roth) – as they explore parts of Chile. Arriving in a coastal town, they go out partying and end up in an underground nightclub, when suddenly an earthquake strikes and they are trapped underground. As they try to make their way to the surface, they and the girls they have picked up are faced with falling debris and deadly criminals.

Making a horror film out of a tragedy such as the 2010 Chile earthquake, and so soon after, doesn’t sit particularly well. The earthquake scene is particularly troublesome for that reason, but also because it’s done so poorly that it was filmed simply by shaking the camera. The falling debris manages to only fall on the sexy ladies and leaves their legs hanging out the side so we can get a good look at their pins, which stinks of macho sexism. From then on the film falls apart faster than the buildings. Typically, most of the cast gets bumped off in stupidly poor and wasteful moments (only one of them receives a decent death, and you can probably guess which one). The ending ... well ... it just makes you sigh because it’s so clichéd and horribly tacky.

The main issue with the film is that we don’t care one iota for any of these lead males; they are so obnoxious and stereotypical that it’s embarrassing. Roth tries to dial back his performance, but even then he looks uncomfortably out of sync with the other two. Levy is used sparingly as the guy pining for his ex-girlfriend, which comes across as stalkerish, and Martinez is running the gauntlet of poor man’s Zach Galifinakis from the beard on down to the attitude and even the T-shirt. None of these guys have any redeemable features and would be the worst friends to have – ever.

Aftershock tries to be a real-life horror, but is spoiled by its male-orientated script that tries to show men as the best at handling an emergency situation. The real-life horror is tinged with sadness right up until the moments of poor CGI and the supposed twist that lacks punch. This is a film that doesn’t have direction or a clue what to say.

EXTRAS ★★ Glasgow Frightfest Q&A with Nicolas Lopez, Eli Roth and Lorenza Izzo (28:27) and a separate interview with Nicolas Lopez and Lorenza Izzo (8:54).

Stuart O'Connor is the Managing Editor of Screenjabber, the movie review website he co-founded with Neil Davey far too many years ago. He likes all genres, as long as the film is good (although he does enjoy the occasional bad "guilty pleasure"), and drinks way too much coffee.

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