Plot: What’s it about?
When a movie is universally panned as being bad, I’m always a bit curious as to how bad a bad movie really is. I mean, there has to be some redeeming quality in pretty much any movie, be it for a second or two, a scene or even a piece of dialogue, right? After I received Aftershock, I really didn’t think twice about it. Yes, I pretty much judge a movie by its cover and that’s wrong of me, but my “to be reviewed” pile always hovers around a dozen or so movies and there are some that I choose to let stagnate while others get my attention. However, after some random web surfing, I came across a Blu-ray review of this movie and they pretty much trashed it. I’m a passing fan of writer/director Eli Roth (he helped produce, write and stars in this movie) so I figured I’d take 89 minutes out of my day and see if this really was as bad as everyone says it is. To be honest, I really don’t think it is. Though you’re not likely to be challenged by the plot, I’ll make my best attempt at explaining it to you.
Six annoying people go clubbing in Valparaiso, Chile and get killed off in succession as the result of an earthquake. There ya go. You want more? Oh sure, why not. We meet the “gringo” (Eli Roth), a man on vacation in Chile who is somehow paired up with Pollo (Nicolás Martínez) and Ariel (Ariel Levy). Pollo comes from a very well to do family and has learned that his reputation and money can get him what he wants. That and I suppose he’s the Chilian version of Zach Galifianakis? Ariel wonders why women don’t like him and the gringo can’t seem to get any of the women half his age to talk to him. These poor guys. As fate would have it they end up with a pair of feuding half-sisters (Andrea Osvárt and Lorena Izzo) and a Russian model (Natasha Yarovenko). And then, it happens – an earthquake. All hell breaks loose and all of the sudden survival is paramount. We follow the group as they lose their patience and a hand. Yes, really. It also so happens that the earthquake has allowed the local prisoners to escape and evidently they literally rape and pillage, because…I guess that’s what prisoners do. So can these superficial folks make it out alive or is this Mother Nature’s way of extracting some sort of revenge?
Admittedly there’s not a lot to crow about in Aftershock. I don’t know if it was supposed to be scary or not and having been written by Eli Roth, it’s clear he can make some disturbing stuff (just check out Cabin Fever and Hostel). Roth’s was the only name and face that I recognized and he does put himself in a starring role. I kept shaking my head saying “…this guy’s starred in a Quentin Tarantino movie…”. I really don’t think the movie is as bad as everyone says it is. I don’t imagine myself watching it again, but I found myself laughing more than anything else. It I was supposed to be scared then they failed. Then again I wasn’t too involved with the characters either even as they filmmakers spent about 60% of the movie trying to get us to know them. That’s a long-winded way of saying that the earthquake doesn’t happen until about 35 minutes in. If you want to see a man lose his hand at a bar, a woman impaled through the leg, another man burned alive and a women raped…twice, well then this has everything you want. For the rest of you, you should probably steer clear.
Video: How does it look?
I hate to admit it, but even though the budget for this film was next to nothing I have to admit that the 1.78:1 AVC HD image looks pretty darn good. The advent of digital filmmaking has paved the way for a new generation of movie makers to produce some truly outstanding-looking films and, unfortunately, Aftershock is one of them. Detail is amazing, showing even the beads of sweat, the fake blood and the “rubble” on the streets of Valparaiso. Contrast and black levels are exceptionally strong making way for a very nice-looking transfer. I think of how many better movies would kill to look this good and get upset, so I’ll end my comments here.
Audio: How does it sound?
Again, I have to grit my teeth. The opening credits made my room shake. No lie. Literally the sound was deafening as the somewhat “seismic” effect gave my subwoofers the workout of their lives and made me wonder if there was something I needed to be concerned about. Clearly this was for effect only, but I have to admit that if they wanted to impress me – job well done. As it stands, the rest of the soundtrack paled by comparison and this DTS HD Master Audio mix wasn’t half bad. We get plenty of dialogue, most of it in Spanish, that sounds rich and natural. Surrounds come into play later on, you know when the earthquake hits and the front stage handles the rest of the audio. But still, that opening sequence was truly something to hear!
Supplements: What are the extras?
The disc sports an “international” audio commentary by writer/actor Eli Roth and director Nicolás López and I’ll be honest here – I didn’t listen to it. I’d just watched the film and didn’t feel like listening to them try and justify themselves. Odds are if you do buy this disc, you’ll most likely listen to it so knock yourself out. We do get a more conventional featurette with “The Making of Aftershock” which gives us a bit of insight on the cast and crew as well as the director himself. “Shaking up the Casting Process” is a rather cruel joke when the film was being cast. Evidently the producers felt it necessary to trick potential actors into thinking a real earthquake was happening (while they were in a dressing room). Yeah, I’m sure they thought it was funny.