Eli Roth. For some reason he’s become that latest addition to the ‘group of intense fanboy hatred’, which for the uninitiated is a small yet omnipresent collection of fanboys that really REALLY despise him and make it known as often as possible. (For previous members see Kevin Smith). A glance at Eli’s imdb message board sees the top topics to be “anti-American nepotist”, “if I ever see this guy on the street I will kick his ass”, and “the Hostel movies were overrated trash”.
I’ll confess, I really like him. Cabin Fever I thought was excellent, so too were the first two Hostel films, but I must admit a fair bit of trepidation when approaching Aftershock. Bearing in mind, Eli was not behind the camera for this, instead delegating to Nicolas Lopez while still writing, producing and acting in the project. The hate for Aftershock I think pretty much supersedes the hate for most of Eli Roth’s other work, with the trolling on the Amazon UK site reaching a crazy level of unwarranted disdain. “I have a large number of films, and THIS has overtaken my worst ever film”!
The film opens in Santiago, Chile where we find Roth starring as an American tourist visiting his friend Ariel (Ariel Levy), and joined also by Pollo (Nicolas Martinez). We first see the threesome visiting a vineyard before then progressing on to explore the thriving Chilean nightlife. Here they meet and become acquainted to two sisters Monica and Kylie (Lorenza Izzo and Andrea Osvart), and single mother Irina (Natasha Yarovenko). By the following day our group of six have become pretty tight and we see them spending the day in Santiago, which it has to be said is shot so gorgeously the colour and vibrancy of the city bounces off the screen.
Disaster soon strikes however as an earthquake hits the packed nightclub. With this coming from Eli Roth though, we’re far from Charlton Heston Earthquake territory and firmly in the region of blood-soaked disaster with the tearing off of limbs, impalings, crushing and a general cavalcade of gory mayhem. As our group of newly found friends fight to stay alive amongst the carnage, they become embroiled in a litany of fatal accidents that come in the immediate aftermath of the disaster as well as a prison break from the local penitentiary.
Obviously a criticism here could be the assertion that the Chilean earthquake claimed 300 lives and made many more homeless, therefore isn’t this simply an exercise in bad taste? This may be true, but you can’t help feeling that because Aftershock takes the earthquake and cranks the fall out up to eleven, the films place in reality is somewhat negligible. This in my eyes makes for a very enjoyable horror film, simply due to this unhinged second act which by employing (thankfully) practical effects as opposed to CGI gore makes for a rollicking old school rollercoaster of horror mayhem.
Eli Roth, regardless of the opinion of a small minority is an envelope pushing filmmaker who continually presents us with the type of horror that genre lovers should embrace. His knowledge and respect of the genre is apparent in all of his movies, and I’ve no doubt that in years to come he’ll be regarded with the respect that’s currently afforded to Carpenter, Craven and Hooper. As for Aftershock, ignore the toothless naysayers and go check it out.