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Aftershock (2012)

The Weinstein Company
Blu-ray Disc Released: 8/6/2012

All Ratings out of
Audio: 1/2

Review by Mike Long, Posted on 7/31/2013

In the early 1970s, disaster movies were all the rage. Titles like Earthquake, The Towering Inferno, and The Poseidon Adventure dominated the big screen, attracting big-name stars and actually winning Oscars. (The last two titles were produced by Irwin Allen who also brought us the TV movies Fire! and Flood!). These kinds of films went out of vogue until Roland Emmerich decided to become the master of disaster in the new millennium and began churning out movies like The Day After Tomorrow and 2012. Something which all of these movies have in common is that they focus on disaster on a large scale. But, devastating incidents can also have a more intimate approach, as shown in the foreign film Aftershock.

Aftershock takes place in modern-day Chile. An American (Eli Roth), referred to simply as "Gringo", is on vacation there, spending time with locals Pollo (Nicolas Martinez), a spoiled party boy, and Ariel (Ariel Levy), who won't quit fretting about his ex-girlfriend. They tour a winery and visit nightclubs, where they meet Monica (Andea Osvart), Irina (Natasha Yarovenko), and Kylie (Lorenza Izzo). Pollo suggests that the group travel to Valparaiso, where they can see the "real" Chile. They go to the small town and enjoy a day of sight-seeing, followed by a visit to an exclusive nightclub. However, this night of fun ends when a massive earthquake hits the area. The group escapes the club, but must not face streets which are filled with debris, pitfalls, and dangerous individuals.

The movies listed above serve as a blue-print as to how to make a disaster movie and Aftershock certainly follows one piece of advice to a t. The earthquake itself only lasts seconds, so the movie isn't actually about an earthquake, but about the after-effects and what the survivors must do to keep going. Spoiler alert -- none of the main characters die in the initial event and the focus of the film becomes the struggle to reach the hospital or safety. However, the movie also goes in the direction of many zombie films -- once the danger of the natural disaster has ended, the main danger becomes other people. Looters, thugs, and rapists now roam the streets and they are more sinister than the crumbling buildings. This approach makes narrative sense and the reason why so many bad people are on the streets passes the smell test, but Aftershock simply wallows too much in this. These "bad people" border on being cartoonish and the whole "as if an earthquake wasn't bad enough" approach borders on ludicrous as we watch the movie go from a disaster movie to a slasher film.

But, that's not the biggest mistake which Aftershock makes. The earthquake doesn't occur until 35-minutes into the movie. The movie takes so long for the big even to happen that I was able to invoke my favorite Jeff Goldblum paraphrase -- "Is there going to be an earthquake in your earthquake movie?" This wouldn't be so bad if the first 35 minutes of the movie weren't so bad. In my recent review for The Demented, I wrote about the misuse of annoying characters in movies. Aftershock runs with idea and presents us with some of the most repugnant d&*%bags and a%$holes ever seen in a movie. We watch these morons wander clubs and streets and we grow to hate them. Therefore, when they are in peril, we simply don't care. In fact, we are cheering for them to die. If this was the movie's goal, then kudos to it.

If you are an Eli Roth fan, then the cover art of Aftershock is for you, as Roth's name is listed four times. While we're on the subject, I would have to question why someone would be an Eli Roth fan. He's directed three decidedly sub-par movies and been involved in several disappointing projects. His name is plastered all over this bad movie, but he's given the directorial reins to Chilean Nicolas Lopez. While Lopez does nothing with the story here, he does deserve praise for the beautiful photography which features great colors. This is the one bright spot in an otherwise dull, mean-spirited, and pointless movie. This is very little shock in Aftershock.

Aftershock assumes that watching dumb people do dumb things is entertaining on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of The Weinstein Company and Anchor Bay Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 1.85:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 25 Mbps. The image is very sharp and clear, showing no overt grain and no defects from the source material. The colors during the first act look fantastic and serve as an example of how movies can reflect the sort of hues which we see in everyday life. The image is never overly dark or bright. The level of detail is good and the depth is notable, especially in the second half of the film. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 4.5 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. As one would expect, the subwoofer effects during the earthquake are nicely done. We also get a lot of bass from the nightclub music. The surround effects are very good during the second half of the movie, as we hear the many things occurring around the characters. It should be noted that the subtitles drop some of the Spanish translations at times.

The Aftershock Blu-ray Disc contains only a few extras. We begin with an AUDIO COMMENTARY from Co-Writer/Director Nicolas Lopez and Co-Writer/Actor/Producer Eli Roth. "The Making of Aftershock" (9 minutes) is a short featurette which offers on-set footage and comments from Lopez, Roth, and some of the cast. We hear about the inspiration for the film, learn some about the production, and get an idea on how certain effects were staged. "Shaking Up the Casting Process" (2 minutes) shows how a simulated earthquake booth was set up for the audition process.

Review by Mike Long. Copyright 2013.