★ / ★★★★
An American only known as “Gringo” (Eli Roth) goes with two guys, Ariel (Ariel Levy) and Pollo (Nicolás Martínez), across Chile to party in clubs, hook-up with women, and visit tourist areas. But when a massive earthquake interrupts their fun, not only must they find higher ground due to a tsunami warning, it turns out that convicts from a nearby prison have escaped.
The first thirty minutes of “Aftershock,” directed by Nicolás López, is essentially “junk” DNA, the set-up is devoid of energy and the longer we spend time listening to the characters speak or watching them in motion, the more we realize that they are unlikeable people with not much on their minds other than the next chance at pleasure. There is no reason to root for these people to live and so the tone is very cynical and not fun to watch. Disaster pictures can get away with being somewhat poorly written as long as it is enjoyable to see unfold. This one offers nothing to the imagination. It likes to show blood.
The cinematography looks cheap, dull, and flat. The events after the earthquake—which, by the way, looks like a five-year-old taking the camera for bumpy plane ride—look like they are shot in a studio. Low-budget, B-movie horror flicks in the ’80s that show wastelands are more visually exciting than what this movie offers. The debris and destruction appear superficial; we are much better off taking a tour in Universal Studios. At least there is excitement there.
There is no character, just caricatures. “Gringo” is supposed to be socially awkward because he is a father of a little girl. Ariel is a doormat, desperate to keep his girlfriend even though she has cheated on him… twice. Pollo is the rich, fat, spoiled brat. The women are treated like objects to be pursued. The exception is Monica (Andrea Osvárt) because she has a brain but she is often labeled as a party-pooper, a baby-sitter. None of them go through a semblance of an arc to try to get us to care.
A group of wild, tattooed prisoners are the main villains. They are not interesting. They are made to commit random acts of cruel violence because the screenplay forces them. I found the latter half disgusting, especially the scene which involves a woman getting shot in the back after she was raped and tries to walk away. It is one tasteless, nonsensical scene after another.
Are the writers, Guillermo Amoedo, Nicolás López, and Eli Roth, proud of their work? If they are, they have no reason to be. Let me put it this way: If this embarrassment were being sold on DVD for a penny, I would not buy it. I want to go up to the writers and ask what motivated them to create this trash. If the answer is something like “artistic expression” or “artistic integrity” then I will them directly that they are in the wrong business.