Film Capsule: Aftershock

Here’s the thing about Chilean director Nicolas Lopez’s new movie, Aftershock – it commits to an integral twist about 35 minutes into the film, and – from that point forward – it does not back down from even the most extreme demonstrations of violence, gore, or violation.

Eli Roth, who co-wrote the screenplay, is actually the best thing about the movie (at least in terms of casting). And yet, he’s sandwiched between a lot of second-rate acting –¬† commandeered to some extent by constant, misplaced stabs at wholly adulterated content or humor.

But the real problem here is a major schism tearing straight down the middle of this thing. On the one hand, Aftershock feels like it wants to be a horror film. On the other, it feels like it wants to be a buddy picture. On the one hand, it feels like it wants to be a slasher film. On the other, it feels like it wants to be a natural disaster epic. On the one hand, it feels like it wants to be Chilean. On the other, it feels like it wants to be American. Meanwhile, all that middle ground limits the movie’s overall ability to cater to any particular demographic.

The bottom line: if you’re a fan of gratuitous violence, you’ll be bored out of your skull for the first 35 minutes of this film; if you’re a fan of well-crafted narrative, you’ll find yourself extremely irritated for the remaining 55. In the end, one cancels out the other, and what you’re left with is a schizophrenic screenplay that’s gravitating to an extremely limited audience. Assuming you’re a member of that niche, you’re in for one hell of a gruesome thrill ride. Assuming you’re not, you’d be much better served going to see The Great Gatsby this coming weekend.

(Aftershock arrives in limited release and via Video OnDemand this coming Friday.)

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