Eli Roth makes a fun earthquake survivor in otherwise predictable AFTERSHOCK
The core plot of an Irwin “Master of Disaster” Allen movie; think his ’79 TV movie Cave In; collides with the survivor horror genre in co-writer/director Nicolás López’s Chilean-set Aftershock. With fan favorite Eli Roth in the lead and an impressive series of escalating deaths, each one more gruesome than the other, Aftershock promises plenty of scares. Unfortunately, López and co-writers Roth and Guillermo Amodeo deliver predictable twists instead of legitimate surprises.
López credits a terrifying 2010 Chilean earthquake for inspiring Aftershock but his make-believe version clearly lacks the horror of the original disaster.
A U.S. tourist nicknamed Gringo (Eli Roth) attempts to crawl out of a Chilean nightclub after a devastating earthquake only to discover the coastal city of Valparaíso Chile in chaos and warnings of an approaching tsunami.
Roth brings welcome laughter to the adventure as the Gringo, a single, sex-starved dad enjoying a night out with his Chilean friends Ariel (Ariel Levy) and Pollo (Nicolás Martinez) and a trio of pretty female tourists, Irina (Natasha Yarovenko), Kylie (Lorenza Izzo) and Kylie’s strict sister Monica (Andrea Osvárt). They’re having the time of their lives until the earthquake brings the dance club fun to a crashing halt.
López has the best horror protagonist in Roth but he fails to fully capitalize on Roth’s enthusiastic performance as well as the shock potential of his earthquake survival tale.
The women of Aftershock are all pretty to the eye and enthusiastic when it comes to the film’s bloody body count but fail to make a memorable impact on the grindhouse story.
True to the spirit of the survivor horror genre, Aftershock reaches its conclusion with one of its young friends left standing. Unfortunately, from the very beginning of the movie, it’s crystal clear who the key survivor will be.
López, cameraman Antonio Quercia and production designer Nelson Daniel stay true to the B-movie spirit of Aftershock with an emphasis on modest stage effects instead of elaborate CGI.
Unfortunately, the scares are too few, although it’s not for lack of trying. Crushing concrete walls at an underground nightclub leads to crazed inmates breaking free from a nearby prison and a desperate escape through a tunnel running beneath an ancient cemetery.
The action unfolds with annoying predictability, stripping much of the fun out of the crushing deaths.
Thankfully, López generates some welcome shocks via a rickety incline filled with earthquake victims desperate to reach a hilltop hospital.
Selena Gomez makes a forgettable appearance as a celebrity guest at a Chilean nightclub opening but fails to take part in the movie’s bloodletting. It’s too bad. Watching Gomez make a gruesome exit from the movie instead of a dull momentary appearance is just the type of surprise Aftershock needs to rise above the level of horror mediocrity.
Distributor: Dimension Films
Cast: Eli Roth, Ariel Levy, Andrea Osvart
Director: Nicolás López
Screenwriter: Nicolás López, Eli Roth and Guillermo Amodeo
Cinematographer: Antonio Quercia
Editor: Diego Macho Gómez
Producers: Vertebra Films, Sobras
Running Time: 90 minutes
Release Date: 2013