So, unfortunately, any time that I encounter a film with an apocalyptic description, all I can think of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and how many times they faced an apocalypse (i.e. every episode). It was cliched, but it was also inspiring to watch characters beaten to a pulp and just…keep…going. Hell, it’s a big reason I love the Rocky series as well. One of my favorite lines from the show was from Anya (a demon turned human) who was trying to sum up the latest (and last) final battle:
“Well, I guess I was kinda new to being around humans before. And now I’ve seen a lot more, gotten to know people, seen what they’re capable of and I guess I just realize how amazingly… screwed up they all are. I mean, really, really screwed up in a monumental fashion.
And they have no purpose that unites them, so they just drift around, blundering through life until they die. Which they-they know is coming, yet every single one of them is surprised when it happens to them. They’re incapable of thinking about what they want beyond the moment. They kill each other, which is clearly insane, and yet, here’s the thing. When it’s something that really matters, they fight. I mean, they’re lame morons for fighting. But they do. They never… They never quit. And so I guess I will keep fighting, too.”
If you are looking for a quote to epitomize the film Aftermath, that is it. Aftermath is not a fun ride through the apocalypse. It is dark. It is sad. It’s a fascinating look at living corpses, and the stages of denial we go through while traveling to their demise (and, no…that really isn’t a spoiler).
Hunter (C.J. Thomason) is enjoying one of the most unenjoyable hikes I’ve ever seen as he is seen listening to a small radio telecast news of the ongoing nuclear war that is being fought all over the globe. As he walks down a lonely country road, a nuclear bomb denonates just as a truck pulls up containing Elizabeth (Monica Keena) and a young teenager (who looks directly at the blast and has his face covered for the rest of the film). Hunter immediately recognizes that they need to take shelter underground, and they begin frantically searching.
Apparently a nuclear explosion tosses the radioactive dust and debris far into the atmosphere before it falls to the earth. Before the dust settles, this small group finds itself in the basement of with six other people (including Edward Furlong as the redneck Brad and William Baldwin). The cloud settles, and we watch as the group slowly tries to keep it together while locked in a small Texas basement.
I’m not going to lie to you. This movie is not fun to watch. It’s a good film, but it’s not fun to watch. I’m generally about gallow’s humor, and this film doesn’t even offer that. Even the film Last Night (which had its moments) at least showcased the insanity that people must be feeling in times like the ones presented here. Not all insanity is hurtful to others. Sometimes it can be innocuous little fits, but not here. Nope. The characters go from rage to sad (and sometimes sad rage).
But, through it all, They never… They never quit.
Furlong has come a long way from Terminator 2, but he’s oddly perfect in his role here. Thomason does a great job as the stoic (ish) doctor, while Keena tries to hold it together as the mother figure here. One of my favorite scenes of hers was when she tried to distract the others by reading aloud while something horrible happened in the next room. The film is low budget, so special effects are minimal.
Like I said, Aftermath is not a fun watch. Remember that tone that Dawn of the Dead took right after this scene (and before the bikers)? It’s cold. It’s brutal. It is like watching walking corpses. The characters feel dead even though they aren’t. Go into this film looking for an interesting character piece, but don’t make it a date movie. It is worth a look.