Aftershock (Nicolás López, 2012)
Man, Aftershock got excoriated by both the media (as of this writing it has a 35% critical rating on Rotten Tomatoes) and the public (26%), hasn’t it? Now, I will be the first to admit that I can be easy to please (though my movie reviews are pretty close to a bell curve, so make of that what you will), but, well, I kinda liked it. It wasn’t Hostel, but then, the same week I watched Aftershock, I also watched Daydreamer, Order of Chaos, The Oxford Murders, Apollo 18, Five Dolls for an August Moon, and Appetite, and all got lower ratings than Aftershock. So it’s not like I’m watching these things in a vaccum… it seemed to me that López and Guillermo Amoedo (Retorno) took the seventies disaster flick and the naughties survival horror flick and combined them with pretty darn good results—nothing spectacular, but certainly not bad.
Pollo (Que Pena tu Vida‘s Nicolás Martinez, doing his best Zach Galifinakis impersonation) and Ariel (Promedio Rojo‘s Ariel Levy) are a couple of Chileans hanging out with a friend they affectionately call Gringo (Inglourious Basterds‘ Eli Roth). After some setup that really is one of the movie’s weak parts, the three of them find themselves in one of Chile’s sleekest nightclubs, a marvel of underground engineering…that is the worst place in the country to be when a massive earthquake hits. (There have been tremors in the film previously, dismissed by Pollo as nothing out of the ordinary. Oops.) Also trapped with them are some lovely lasses the predictably socially-awkward guys have been hitting on (there’s an interesting romance subplot that begins to develop between Ariel, the non-party-guy of the trio, and the straitlaced older sister, but that takes a backseat to survival, unfortunately). However, once they get out of the collapsing nightclub, they discover that they might have been better off staying underground.
No, there’s nothing new here. But the combination of old is interesting, the characters are stock without being stereotypes, and there is real tension to be had in some places where it is unexpected. It may seem as if I am praising with faint damn, and that is accurate; I enjoyed the movie without being wild about it, so I’m trying to be restrained as much as I can while still saying “yeah, you should watch this and ignore what you’re hearing from everyone else”. It’s not breaking any new ground, hardy har har, but as far as being a mildly interesting disaster flick with survival-horror elements, it fills the bill. ** ½