Take cover: 'Aftershock' is a gory disaster
05:00 AM, May 09, 2013
If a massive earthquake and several huge aftershocks aren’t enough to inspire maximum tension, try adding brutal rapes, escaped prison inmates gone savage and a looming tsunami. This lurid hybrid is equal parts disaster movie and slasher exploitation film.
Aftershock (* ½ out of four; rated R; opening Friday nationwide) gleefully pulls out all the stops. It’s an unrelentingly brutal movie set in an unusually scenic locale the coastal city of Valparaiso, Chile.
The tables are turned on horror filmmaker Eli Roth, who does not direct here but plays one of the victims of the harrowing mayhem. He’s tortured viciously and screams in agony, much like the characters in his own sadistic films, such as Hostel. But Roth proves to be a relatively engaging actor, even covered in blood and flames.
The story opens with Roth, nicknamed “Gringo,” and two Chilean buddies, Pollo (Nicolas Martinez) and Ariel (Ariel Levy), leisurely touring a vineyard, sampling Cabernet. Their next stop is a nightclub, where the guys meet a pair of Hungarian sisters, the wild Kylie (Lorenza Izzo) and her more cautious sister, Monica (Andrea Osvart), along with Russian model Irina (Natasha Yarovenko). Gringo gets dissed by “VIP Girl,” a snooty American tourist played by Selena Gomez in a one-minute cameo. A lawyer from San Diego, Gringo is enjoying his vacation but can’t seem to score in the romance department. Then, finally, he strikes some sparks with Irina.
But those sparks give way to perilous electrical fires. While they’re in the crowded club, a violent temblor strikes. Revelers are impaled, dismembered and trampled as panic prevails. Ariel has his hand severed trying to help an injured woman. Things get worse as the six partiers crawl out of the club only to find their car crushed by rocks. A tsunami warning sounds, looters rampage, and prisoners break out of their cells to torment everyone. Chilean director Nicolas Lopez (who co-wrote the script with Roth) depicts a vast array of hideous, grisly deaths.
It’s hard to imagine just who would want to sit through this movie, given the sadistic mayhem the audience is subjected to.
During the first half-hour, dialogue and situations are strikingly banal, in contrast to the life-or-death scenarios that follow.
When first at the club, Gringo waxes rather inarticulately about the charms of Chile.
“People think of Chile as like City of God or something,” Roth says, referring to the Brazilian film about poverty-stricken slums. “Or like Juarez, like there’s bodies hanging in the streets. This place is awesome. It’s like the indie station of Latin America. It’s like really cool. And the food here is so fresh. There are no preservatives in anything.”
Shortly thereafter, nothing could be further from his mind than the cool vibe or the cuisine.
Each of the six suffers life-threatening injuries, and the film becomes a lurid compilation of non-stop gore. It’s a B-movie solidly anchored by Roth, with a somewhat soulful performance by Levy. Of the women, only Osvart has a vaguely distinctive presence.
But Aftershock is hardly about acting. There’s a Roger Corman gross-out feel to this splatter-fest. But before the mayhem, it does showcase the appeal of a beautiful Chilean city.