Single father Gringo (Eli Roth), obviously not his real name, is visiting Chile, and when not annoying his friend Ariel (Ariel Levy), and Ariel’s friend Pollo (Nicolás Martínez), with sightseeing and wine tasting tours, the three are out partying at dance clubs and looking to get laid. Which isn’t the easiest thing to do, because Gringo’s game is nonexistent (the old joke of being unable to get laid in a whorehouse with a hundred dollar bill sticking out of his pants would apply here) and Ariel is hung up on an ex. Pollo, on the other hand, thinks himself a tiny king around town, due to the influence of his rich father, and takes it upon himself to find some new lady friends to hang out with.
To which Pollo succeeds, convincing the gorgeous and wild Kylie (Lorenza Izzo) to join him for a day trip to Valparaíso, to show her the real Chile. Kylie’s sister Monica (Andrea Osvárt), on hand as a bit of a babysitter for the more adventurous Kylie, doesn’t approve but has to go along with it anyway. The third in their trio, Irina (Natasha Yarovenko), is game too, as she and Gringo have hit up a small friendship (even if Gringo may think he’s doing better than he is).
The next day, the group head out and have a fun time together, exploring around with Pollo as tour guide. As the day wraps up, the group ends up in yet another dance club. And then the earthquake happens.
It is at this point in the review where I could continue with the synopsis, letting you know little bits of what is to come but, f**k that, I don’t want to ruin it for you. The picture attached to this review should give you a hint (if the breadth of Eli Roth’s involvement wasn’t already a clue) that things get dark and bloody in the aftermath of the major earthquake that hits. But also lots of fun.
Seriously, I was surprised with myself at how often I laughed out loud with this film. Maybe part of it is, when things get so out of hand, what else can you do but laugh? Or maybe I’m just a sick bastard? I’m willing to entertain both scenarios.
Mainly, for as painfully cliché as it sounds, Nicolás López’ film is like a rollercoaster ride. There’s the steady climb where you’re having fun but you know there’s a severe drop coming, and there’s some fear there. But you also still expect to enjoy yourself, and when the drop off does come, no matter how frightening that moment is (or other moments to follow), overall you have a blast and want to ride the damn thing again. That’s Aftershock, to me.
See, it’s fairly entertaining in the lead up to the earthquake, enough so that I could’ve spent more time with the characters, and the way they were being developed, and not be unamused. But I knew the drop off was coming (it’s not called Party Time in Chile with Gringo, Pollo and Friends), and when it did hit, it did not disappoint. And when there was an opportunity for a twist or a turn that worked, the film did it.
Sure, depending on your outlook on life, you can predict how this is all going to turn out, and that may or may not ultimately be for you (at least one friend of mine had very strong opinions to the contrary of my praise), but it’s still a fun ride. If you like scares where the supernatural doesn’t need to be involved because nature and humanity can more than do the heavy-lifting, you’ve got it. Like gore? You’ve got it. Like to laugh? Going to happen. Like moments of transcendent heroism and cowardly horror and inhumanity? Done.
Overall, Aftershock is a horror film in that horrible, gory things happen, it’s a comedy because things made me laugh and it’s a disaster epic because an earthquake hits and does some ridiculous damage; it spans these different genres and does justice to each. For me, Aftershock was one helluva ride, and I’m ready to go again.