AFTERSHOCK ** USA / Chile 2013 88 mins
Director Nicolas Lopez and co-writer / star Eli Roth (whose name is, predictably, all over the posters) here attempt to combine a 70’s disaster movie (minus the production values) with the post-HOSTEL ordeal-horror trend. You also get an opening 35 minutes of frivolous build-up that plays like HANGOVER-lite with its scenes of supposedly lovable characters taking pictures of their own balls and demeaning women. Set in Santiago, it follows the fight for survival of slightly geeky American tourist Roth and a couple of local buddies when a huge earthquake hits the region, with the threat of a tsunami not far behind. It’s unusually unpredictable in terms of who lives and dies, but the contrived arrival of a bunch of rapey, sub-DEATH WISH looters fails to disguise the general lack of convincing drama. Harsh moments of sudden violence are intended to be shocking, but come off as phoney and overwrought thanks to poor staging and a really intrusive score that TELLS US EXACTLY HOW TO FEEL AT ANY GIVEN MOMENT IN CASE WE’RE TOO FUCKING DUMB TO KNOW OURSELVES. Even the trendy, uber-downbeat ending verges on being unintentionally funny rather than the punch-in-the-gut impact the filmmakers were clearly going for.
Review by Steven West