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Aftershock | Review

After shock, after shock: Lopez Directs Roth in Another Tourist Nightmare

Nicolas Lopez’s Aftershock PosterRecalling the glut of disaster movies that invaded the multiplexes in the 60s and 70s, everything from The Poseidon Adventure and, of course, Earthquake, Eli Roth teams as producer and star for Chilean director Nicolas Lopez’s Aftershock, a film that examines the horrors of unchecked human (rather than mother) nature. Wisely attempting to build characterization with an overly long set up, once the expected chaos sets in one must give credit to the remarkably tense and engaging pacing, even if it hits all the major checkpoints in the path of predictability.

On the last leg of his Chilean vacation, an American tourist known by his cohorts only as the Gringo (Eli Roth), cavorts in the vibrant local club scene for some last minute connections with some recently made friends, the shy Ariel (Ariel Levy), and Pollo (Nicolas Martinez), a flabby egomaniac who successfully navigates the social scene with daddy’s bank book (even if he is at least a decade too old to make this seem anything more than pathetic). They happily convince a group of three ladies to hang with them, two of which are half sisters, the Hungarian raised Monica (Andrea Osvart) and wild child American Kylie (Lorenza Izzo), along with their Russian model friend Irina (Natasha Yarovenko), placed for diverse measure.

As the men and women make vague sexual/romantic alliances, an earthquake suddenly crumbles the night club they’re hanging out in just as Kylie and Monica are about to get into a nasty catfight. Soon, the group is fleeing through Chilean streets as a foreboding siren foretells the approach of a tsunami. However, as they attempt to reach higher ground, it’s announced that a local prison has collapsed and inmates are now mixed in with the rest of the looters and pillagers.

Nicolas Lopez, an interesting choice for this feature, is best known in Chile for a trilogy of comedic films, starting with 2010’s F*ck My Life, which also star Ariel Levy and Nicolas Martinez, who have now become acolytes of Roth as they’re starring in his next directorial feature, The Green Inferno (which concerns a group of American students caught in a bad situation in the Amazon). While the screenplay (co-written between Lopez, Roth, and Guillermo Amoedo) has spurts of ominous subtlety, especially pertaining to the caustic sister duo, which could have been developed into a much more psychotic narrative, we are treated to a by the books slaying of our main characters. Unfortunately, only one of them seems more or less sympathetic, their social and selfish behaviors dictating often violently bitter ends (and, also to its credit, there is definitely one memorably surprising and cringe worthy scene involving Roth).

For his part, Roth isn’t such a slight, given a rather meaty role here when he’s usually relegated to the sidelines in front of the camera when working with director friends Tarantino, RZA or for a cameo in Fruit Chan’s Don’t Look Up. He’s an awkward nerdy character, who makes cutesy comments (“Chile is like the indie music station of South America”) and awkward passes at reluctant females, including a useless cameo with Selena Gomez, dispatched must faster here than in this year’s other hedonism run amok flick, Spring Breakers.

While there are just a few too many moments of wincing scene chewing and music video montages that seem more at home in a travel brochure, at least Lopez is wisely able to establish some squirmy tension, even if you can make the call as to the outcome. Certainly less bloody than most of the other torture porn tourists-in-peril entries it resembles (including, of course, Roth’s own Hostel flicks), there are a few choice moments worthy of satisfying gross out hounds.

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Los Angeles based Nicholas Bell is's Chief Film Critic and covers film festivals such as Sundance, Berlin, Cannes and TIFF. He is part of the critic groups on Rotten Tomatoes, The Los Angeles Film Critics Association (LAFCA), the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS) and GALECA. His top 3 for 2021: France (Bruno Dumont), Passing (Rebecca Hall) and Nightmare Alley (Guillermo Del Toro). He was a jury member at the 2019 Cleveland International Film Festival.

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