Craig's First Take: "Aftershock"

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Based on factual events from the massive 8.8 earthquake in Chile that created a tsunami and claimed the lives of more than 480 people in February 2010. Directed by Nicolás López, this horror thriller centers on a group of travelers who are celebrating in an underground nightclub when the earthquake hits. They quickly realize that reaching the surface is only the beginning of their nightmare.
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Characters begin “Aftershock” on vacation in Chile and if you’re in an Eli Roth movie, any vacation is a VERY bad thing. Roth, a filmmaker who makes you wonder if he is ever going to grow out of the cruel torture porn on display in his movies, collaborated on this film with Guillermo Amoedeo and director Nicholas Lopez and it goes primarily where you expect it to go but with one nice change. The three filmmakers give the first half hour of the film over to a funny and likable dose of character development (as well as a fun party atmosphere) and from there that’s all the movie really needs to win you over to its side.

It’s a bit like “The Hangover” as three friends wind up drinking, chasing girls, and going to concerts while in Chile. The guys are Pollo (Nicolas Martinez, a dead-ringer for a Latino Zack Galifianakis), the fat, good-time partier whose father owns most of the country, Ariel (Ariel Levy), who can’t seem to stop wanting to get back with his cheating ex-girlfriend, and Gringo (Roth), a lawyer who’s a complete yutz with the ladies.

Ariel and Gringo fumbling through personality flaws while Pollo keeps the laid-back party attitude going is pretty endearing and at times I laughed out loud at how funny they are. At one point Pollo tells Ariel to stop being trapped in his ex-girlfriend’s vagina, to which Ariel responds “but it’s warm in here.”

The three guys get a needed pick-me-up when they meet Russian model Irina (Natasha Yarovenko), her wild-child best friend Kylie (Lorenza Izzo), and Kylie’s over-protective sister Monica (Andrea Osvart). There is clearly a rift between the later two. Anyway, the 6 guys and gals end up taking a trip and sight-seeing around Valparaiso City, only to end up at an exclusive dance party.

Here’s where Roth and co. start-up the thrills. They throw an earthquake at us which destroys most of the city, tremors go off all around, a Tsunami warning is in effect, and worst of all, the quake has helped murdering, raping prisoners escape from jail. There’s nothing to do but wait to see when and how these characters are going to be decapitated but that doesn’t stop “Aftershock” from putting together a few intense sequences and the actors actually aren’t bad. The movie plays less like a horror movie than a disaster movie with some horror thrown in but that doesn’t mean it will disappoint people looking for gory scenes of bodies be severed, crushed, stabbed, and so on. But like I said, the movie succeeds better than it should because it gives you some characters who are fun to watch as well.