CHICAGO – “Drinking Buddies” director Joe Swanberg’s latest release of the same star wattage is “Happy Christmas,” an even lower-fi story than the Olivia Wilde beer comedy, steered even more by the casting that it was able to assemble. However, with this movie Swanberg doesn’t so much worry about having a story that could be confused with a more mainstream romantic comedy if it were to have a bigger budget.
Film Review: Eli Roth Stars in Convoluted, Manic ‘Aftershock’
CHICAGO – Eli Roth may be in front of the camera for the earthquake horror film “Aftershock,” opening in some markets this weekend, but his fingerprints are all over it as a creative voice as well. From the long “Hostel”-esque set-up about the dread that can come just from being a foreigner in a strange land to the shock value of some of the extreme places that the film goes, it’s a Roth joint. Sadly, writer/director Nicolas Lopez doesn’t have quite the same personality and tonal balance as his star/producer, resulting in a film that too often feels ridiculous instead of tense. The elements all seem to be there but they’re not compiled in a way that creates atmosphere or dread as much as they do confusion and laughter.
Gringo (Eli Roth) is travelling through Chile with friend Ariel (Ariel Levy) and his buddy Pollo (Nicolas Martinez). The first half-hour of “Aftershock” plays like the opening act of “Hostel” in that it’s relatively mundane given the fact that anyone going into this knows they’re watching a horror movie. Gringo and the boys go to a wine tasting and flirt with the guide with a Wu-Tang tattoo. They go from one club to another until they meet a trio of girls with which they seem to align – Ariel flirts with the motherly Monica (Andrea Osvart), Gringo chases the Russian model Irina (Natasha Yarovenko), and Pollo spars with the rebellious Kylie (Lorenza Izzo). Selena Gomez cameos for no reason other than for audience members to go, “Hey, isn’t that Selena Gomez?”
|Read Brian Tallerico’s full review of “Aftershock” in our reviews section.|
The six party goers end up in Valparaiso, a town that happens to be near the Peru-Chile trench (and is, therefore, susceptible to earthquakes and tsunamis), happens to have several old funiculars (trolleys that take travelers and locals up rickety rails), and a nearby prison. The ingredients are all in place. One night, while the gang is partying, an earthquake hits. They’re trapped in the city as it descends into complete chaos. The earthquake unleashed dozens of prisoners who have nothing but rape and murder on their mind. The tourists have to dodge debris, find a way to safety, and avoid the evil men on their tails.
While it may take a while to slow burn to the actual earthquake, Lopez wastes NO time once he gets there. Before you can ask what you’d do in that situation, Ariel is trying to help a bartender get out from underneath the shelf that has her pinned and watches as his hand gets lopped off. Whereas most of us would faint, puke, pass out, or at least scream, Ariel chases the hand around the club as beautiful people stampede to the doors. Ah, “Aftershock” is going to be one of THOSE movies. It’s a horror film that takes a serious situation and turns it into gross-out horror comedy, such as when a woman climbs a ladder at just the wrong moment shortly after Ariel’s hand has been stuffed in Monica’s purse.
Photo credit: Radius/TWC