Aftershock is the strangest of movie beasts. Directed like a b-grade film and released like a low-budget indie, the film actually had a substantial budget and the kind of massive visual effects that usually signal a much larger release. However, the film’s set-backs to release haven’t stopped it from becoming quite popular as it has surged to the top of horror digital downloads chart and it has received praise for being an over the top, gore drenched mess.
The plot for Aftershock is tried and tested – a young American nicknamed ‘Gringo’ is holidaying in Chile, enjoying all the sights, sounds, women and booze that come his way. His friends have taken him to a beautiful coastal village that features the “best club in Chile”. The group become trapped in the underground nightclub when a huge earthquake hits the city. Gringo and his Chilean friends now have to find a doctor and reach safety. But not everything goes as planned when prison inmates from the local jail escape their confines and threaten the group at every turn.
The film features a cast of complete unknowns and Eli Roth. Roth is not known for his acting prowess and it really shows here, he hams his way through clunky dialogue and struggles whenever emotion is required. Thankfully Roth and his fellow cast members seem to realise how terrible the script is and try to make it has entertaining as possible. The Chilean cast especially, who seem to be relishing the opportunity to be in such a big production, are clearly there just to have a great time. It makes the first hour, with all its awfulness, that much easier to sit through.
It is sad then that Nicolás López choose to change the film in the final act. What to that point had been a fun, b-grade, comedic horror, quickly turned into a dark and deprived “end of the world” chiller. The switch-up was unexpected and not-needed, with López taking a lot of cues from Xaiver Gens’ The Divide. If you’ve seen that film then you can easily imagine the sort of places Aftershock goes. Whilst the unexpected is something I usually adore in horror films, it turned the film into something completely different to what had been set-up. The character development, however light it was, was quickly thrown out the window and replaced with shocking and poorly handled brutality.
The film’s budget stands at $10 million which I can confidently say was all spent on the destruction in the final act. It is amazingly detailed and impressive to watch. For a film billed as an indie I honestly wasn’t expecting the kind of production values that were offered up. Buildings crumble and fall. Streets split and open. Explosions happen everywhere. The amount of destruction is fantastic to watch.
Aftershock is pretty much universally terrible, however for most of its run-time it is the enjoyable kind of terrible with the awful jokes, acting and gratuitous ass shots all adding to the b-grade fun. The change in direction in the final act is unwarranted, but it is all forgiven once the destruction starts reigning down. Aftershock is a no holds barred thrill ride, which is worth watching late at night whilst drunk with friends.