Let me just come right out and say it: I’m not the biggest Eli Roth fan. I think there is some real smart stuff in his movies, but then he falls back on shock and gore – not that that’s always a bad thing. Let’s be real… When someone gets hit by a car face-first, it’s going to be a mess, but some of the over-the-top stuff came off as cheap sight gags in Cabin Fever. And Hostel was what it was. (Did that make sense?) I mean, the whole point of Hostel was sick guys getting off on hurting others. So, in that case, we sort of expected the violence and gore. It worked in the context.
And then I got to Aftershock (2012). There is certainly a lot of blood. It is certainly violent. But just like Hostel, it works within the framework of the movie. Maybe director and co-writer Nicolás López helped rope things in to the appropriate level.
Note: There are potential spoilers throughout this review, so you may want to stop here and return after watching the movie.
The movie opens with Eli’s character, Gringo (Yes, that’s the only name we get for him.), trashed at a party, talking to lamps, and then passed out on the floor. Come to find out, his ex-wife has a new man, and he’s just trying to get away from it all and have some fun. Unfortunately, ol’ Gringo has no “game” – like none at all; like my 10 year old has more than him. So he wasn’t having a whole lot of luck.
Meanwhile, his friend Pollo (Nicolás Martínez) gets all the ladies. Maybe his daddy’s money helps, but he certainly seems popular.
After a few more parties (including a hilarious scene where a snooty gal [Selena Gomez] shuts down Gringo hardcore), our friends, along with their pal Ariel, meet three young women – Kylie (the obnoxious one), Monica (the uptight one), and Irina (the beautiful, but sweet one). Things seem to be looking up, and the six new friends head to Valparaiso for the “best party of the year.”
They have a lovely day exploring the city, which only puts the viewer on notice, because we know something’s coming. Ariel (Ariel Levy) tells a particularly sad story about all the orphans in Chile. Seems there are secret tunnels under the city, and the priests and nuns meet there to have sex. When one gets pregnant, guess where they hide the babies? (Remember that for later.)
The party of the year looks… OK. It kind of looks like a nightclub in DC my husband and I used to frequent – just OK. And then the proverbial crap hits the fan – EARTHQUAKE!
To be honest, with an Eli Roth film, I expected a lot more carnage, but, dare I say it, this actually seemed realistic in regard to what a large magnitude earthquake would do. Speakers fell and crushed a poor guy! People fell off the balconies, parts of the roof caved in, and people were just not at their best. Panic sets in, and people get trampled, and our poor friend Ariel loses his hand while saving a bartender – who didn’t even stick around to thank him! Heartless wench!
Eventually, a kind cleaning lady tells our friends that there is another way out. Unfortunately, things don’t end so well for her. (Tip: When opening a manhole cover, make sure you aren’t in the middle of a road. Just saying.) But our friends get out and end up right in the thick of things. There’s rioting. Bodies are lying broken in the road. It’s ugly. And we know it’s going to get worse.
Suddenly, the tsunami bell goes off, and our friends try to get to high ground. Unfortunately, Ariel is losing a lot of blood and not doing well. So Pollo finally shows a bit of heart and pleads with the operator of a rickety cable car to let their friend get on and get to the hospital on higher ground, because, put simply, Ariel wouldn’t be able to make the walk. The operator finally lets Ariel, and only Ariel, on. Of course, this is a horror movie, so you know it’s not going to end well with the cable car. And it doesn’t! The car makes it to the top, but before anyone can get off, the cables snap, and it plummets to the ground, crashing and killing everyone inside. Again, I’m surprised here – not a lot of gore, but what there was worked for the accident.
Witnessing the cable car incident, Pollo and Gringo are devastated, crying even. As for the girls, they kind of disappeared out of the scene. Honestly, I missed where the girls ran to. But just as Pollo collapses to the ground – TSUNAMI BELL! (Honestly, is that ever coming?)
Gringo, with his lack of any ability to express a rational thought (See! No game!), is unsuccessful at getting Pollo to move. Finally, Irina (Natasha Yarovenko) comes from somewhere and just smacks him around a bit. That works! And our friends are up and running. The other girls rejoin the group, and our party of six is down to five now.
They run smack into rioting, and though the police eventually show up in the scene, it quickly becomes apparent that they kind of suck. Realizing they need to get to higher ground, Gringo mentions the shortcut through the cemetery that Ariel had told them about. They make it up to the cemetery, and here we get an aftershock.
It’s not good for Gringo, as a massive pillar falls and crushes him from the waist down – poor guy! Seeing that they can’t move the rubble, Pollo and Monica (Andrea Osvárt) run off to find a car jack, leaving Kylie (Lorenza Izzo) and Irina to stay with Gringo. Well, things go from bad to worse when they hear a bunch of rowdy guys coming, and Gringo forces the girls to hide. Unfortunately, the rowdy guys know exactly who Gringo is, and they want the girls. He holds out as long as he can, but apparently rum being dumped on him, fire held up to his face, and the large man that sits on the pillar crushing him further are too much for him.
Irina tries to run, but ends up caught, raped, and thrown aside by the leader of this friendly bunch. Oh, and did I mention that she gets to watch Gringo burn to death?
Kylie isn’t going down like that and runs away, only to run into Monica, Pollo, and a fireman they rescued from a fire truck that crashed. Our friends try to help Irina out. Unfortunately, things don’t end well, and one of the scumbags shoots her dead.
So, now we are down to three, plus our friendly firefighter.
They take off and then come upon a street with a gate that’s locked up tight. Keep in mind that our gang of rapists/murderers is right behind them. And did I forget to mention that FF (friendly firefighter) tells our remaining friends that the prison collapsed, and everyone escaped? Really? Can this night get any better?
It would seem that a paranoid mother knows this and does not want to open the lock for the strangers, but an old man tells her they need to help. He really wants to help, and he tells her she can’t tell him what to do. Unfortunately, she kinda can since she’s the one with the gun! She shoots and gravely injures poor Pollo when he tries to come in, and our friends turn and run. FF tells the girls they need to hide Pollo, as he is slowing them down, and they can’t get to help carrying him.
But wait! Guess what? As Pollo’s cowering in his makeshift hut, bleeding from a GSW, he gets cell reception. He tries to call his father to get help, but the call gets dropped. And guess what alerts our not-so-friendly gang to Pollo’s presence? Yep, you guessed it… his cell phone ringing.
Again, the director doesn’t take this moment to show us a cheap bit of gore with Pollo getting shot. Instead he uses the sound of the gunshot to spur the two remaining girls (sisters, by the way) and FF on faster. They finally make it to the church, one Ariel had pointed out the day before, just in time. Unfortunately, another aftershock must have weakened the doors, as the gang – what we learn is actually a band of prisoners from the collapsed prison – gets in too.
No worries… the priest gets FF, the two girls, and himself into a basement room, just as parts of the roof collapse. Apparently, there is a hatch which leads to tunnels that will get them all out. Unfortunately, the ladder is rickety, and though FF makes it down, it collapses with Kylie and the priest on it – leaving Monica stuck at the top, the good father dead, and Kylie with a lovely pipe through her leg.
FF helps Kylie by pulling the pipe out (I don’t think he should have done this… but what can you do?). And when he attempts to make Kylie comfortable by giving her his fireman’s jacket, we discover that friendly firefighter is really… fake firefighter! Yep, prison tats up and down his arm. Kylie’s pleadings mean nothing to him, and just as Monica finds a rope and lowers herself into the tunnel, they disappear.
Unfortunately, Monica doesn’t go far before she discovers poor little sister’s body, and FF coming for her with an ax. (These kids can’t catch any kind of break here!) A fight ensues, and things aren’t looking good for the last friend standing, but wait… AFTERSHOCK! FF drops the ax, and Monica finds it and eventually prevails.
And this leads up to the most shocking scene of the movie – in my opinion. Remember that little kernel of information I told you to remember about the freaky priests and nuns, and what they do with the babies they might conceive? Yep. Guess what Monica finds? (I will say, I’m only assuming this, as the shot is rather quick, but the horror on Monica’s face and her anguished screams led me to this conclusion!) And then – AFTERSHOCK!
I thought Monica dies here, and that was it, but nope, our plucky heroine survives and makes it out of the “tunnels of death” (my own name for this horrible place) only to land on a beach… And I’ll let you figure out – or watch – what happens next.
I admit that I liked this movie more than Hostel and Cabin Fever. It’s not great, it’s very chaotic, and there was quite a bit of reading involved – there’s a lot of Spanish conversation, so you may need to turn on the subtitles. Overall, for what it is, I (very surprisingly) enjoyed the movie – even if I didn’t get my happy ending. It has twists and turns that keep you on edge, and it just works.
3.5 on the Richter magnitude scale (with five being the strongest earthquake ever; yes, my scale only goes to 5).