Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Aftershock DVD Review

Eli Roth presents is becoming a common thing with his name being synonymous with horror, gory horror usually. Becoming a name means you can reach back down the ladder and pull someone up with you. This time he reached down and helped the small Chilean director Nicolás López who was famous mainly for his romcoms. It would be hard to guess that his first English feature, Aftershock, wouldn’t follow the same suit that made him popular in Chile but he met Eli Roth, they got to the talking, they realised how similar their tastes were and decided to sit down with Guillermo Amodeo as well to write this Chilean horror flick. There’s talent ready to be engaged to give a bigger scope to the usual intimate genre of horror but instead falls flat, partaking in too many normalities and tropes of the genre to be anything other than ordinary.

Around the luscious Chile which has been heavily westernised in terms of nightclubs. It starts off idyllic, with comedy mannerisms because a group of friends are travelling around Chile, getting drunk, trying to get girls. It’s one of the more different first acts in recent horror outings memory as the country is captured in bright colours that even make dirty favelas look like great place to live. Whimsically painted with these radiant colours it’s all building up the characters up until the first turning point, the earthquake. This firmly sets it straight into the horror genre and that’s where it loses its hard work. Setting itself apart was what made this work more than anything but as it proceeds, it indulges itself in tropes to fulfil horrors predictability. It does this by being the most cynical film in existence.
Cynicism is a common thing but in this it takes it entirely to the extreme when put to a natural disaster, it’s disheartening to have to watch everything go on. Completely lacking in any form of optimism – even for a horror film – leads this to be exhausting because it’s tedious to see such hatred for humanity. It’s hard to believe that this is the real world. Bad things happen outside of film but in this it feels like it’s taken all of these negative stories, thrust them naked front and centre for an uncomfortable experience. That is the intention of it. It’s there for you see the evil that surrounds us, fitted neatly into a building, that will cause unnecessary violent vengeance once let loose.

Where some characters are interesting, with an interesting backstory that is done without being overtly expositional, there are some that archetypes of the horror genre we’ve come to know and hate, really. One character plays the typical standoffish prude (Andrea Osvárt) that seeps boring banality with every bitchy breath. You see that coming from a mile off. Then there’s her counterpart sister (Lorenza Izzo) who is a libertine to have the duality. The more interesting characters are the men written into it who we follow from the beginning. Eli Roth’s Gringo is a traveller who has companions from summering around with Pollo (Nicolás Martinez) and Ariel (Ariel Levy); they’ve been written with a much more purposeful pen than the rest of the ensemble.

Aftershock crumbles down by collapsing with the heavy weight of all the tropes that are simply overdone and aren’t done capably enough to be made engaging again. Hats off to its ambition but the budget isn’t reflective enough of its ambition. Streets crumble in a blurry haze of lack of money to detail the CGI, it even looks a different aspect ratio to the rest of the filming which is distracting. Its use of fire is usually poor CGI, that lends itself to retracting from the film because of the visuals which is a shame. There are a couple of good twists in the story but you know how it’s going, you know what’s going to happen next and it doesn’t try to disguise it or misdirect. It’s an interesting film, it’s not bad, it’s not great but it all falls down to how you view humanity; if you’re pessimistic, this may be the perfect film for you.

There’s a trailer for Aftershock, a Q&A at Frightfest and interviews. Pretty decent and interesting to watch although the beginning of the Q&A at Frightfest could possibly make you a little uncomfortable.