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Aftershock Blu-ray Review

Aftershock (2013) movie poster Aftershock

Theatrical Release: May 10, 2013 / Running Time: 89 Minutes / Rating: R

Director: Nicolás López / Writers: Nicolás López, Eli Roth (story & screenplay); Guillermo Amoedo (screenplay)

Cast: Eli Roth (Gringo), Andrea Osvárt (Monica), Ariel Levy (Ariel), Natasha Yarovenko (Irina), Nicolás Martínez (Pollo), Lorenza Izzo (Kylie), Marcial Tagle (Firefighter), Ramón Llao (Ramón), Ignacia Allamand (Guide), Paz Bascuñan (Pregnant Woman), Matías López (Marito), Patricio Strahovsky (Priest), Álvaro López (Jesús), Adrián Salgado (Bad Guy 1 - Adrián), Enrique Quiroz (Bad Guy 2 - Bairon), Orlando Alfaro (Bad Guy 3 - Cristofer), Dayana Amigo (Bartender), Eduardo Domínguez (Russell Dazzle), Gabriela Hernández (Cleaning Lady), Edgardo Bruna (Grumpy Operator), Ashley Cook (Annoyed Friend), Selena Gomez (V.I.P. Girl Lisa)

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Eli Roth has kind of become for horror what his two-time collaborator Quentin Tarantino has long been for the various genres he loves. Roth directs as the mood suits (he's recently completed The Green Inferno, which seems unlikely to make its scheduled 2013 release), but more often of late he's been a producer and actor, his name and likeness carrying some clout
and functioning as an endorsement from the maker of Cabin Fever and the first two Hostel movies.

The international production Aftershock has Roth sharing story and screenplay credit, taking top billing as actor, and even presenting in the Tarantino sense. Roth's name is likely more familiar to you than that of his director and co-writer here, Chile's Nicolás López. You'll want to call this López's English language debut or his first time working outside of his native Chile. But the film is more or less bilingual and entirely set and shot in the long, narrow South American country.

Roth, who's no better an actor than Tarantino, plays "Gringo", a divorced American dad who is on vacation with two pals. If they remind you of The Hangover's "Wolfpack", then there is no question who the Zach Galifianakis of the group is. It's Pollo (Nicolás Martínez), a chubby, bald, bearded wild card who's comfortably living off his father's wealth in various colorful T-shirts. The trio's third and Gringo's actual friend is Ariel (Ariel Levy), a guy who's not over his ended relationship with an unseen woman he's overly forgiving towards.

Bearing a striking resemblance to Zach Galifianakis in "The Hangover Part II", Pollo (Nicolás Martínez) tries to buy funicular tickets for him and his friends in the Chilean thriller "Aftershock."

Aftershock begins as a romantic comedy, as the guys try to find suitable love interests at a vineyard tour and in a nightclub. That isn't the movie you expect based on the title, cover art, or Roth's participation. Alas, 34½ minutes in, it instantly assumes the makings of a disaster movie as an earthquake strikes the Valparaíso hot spot where the guys are mostly striking out. The Poseidon Adventure, this is not. In an attempt to rescue a woman, one of the leads' hands is chopped off and goes sliding all over the place in the commotion. It's not pure comedy, but there is an unmistakable dark sense of humor that has defined Roth's previous work.

After utilizing its first half-hour on admirable character development, Aftershock proceeds to soak up the horror of its apocalyptic scenario. There are fires and looting, armored yet ineffective police, and tattooed thugs who have escaped in a prison collapse. Three women turn our central party into a sextet, including two half-sisters (Lorenza Izzo and Andrea Osvárt) from opposite parts of the world with a strained relationship. While the movie doesn't quite earn the "torture porn" label first applied to Roth's original Hostel, López does not shy from making you cringe, with graphic mutilations and gang rape emerging from circumstance (e.g. an unreliable funicular) and ugly human nature, respectively.

With warnings of a follow-up tsunami looming, the order of deaths wildly defies expectations. That is good news for those who enjoy subversion but does leave us to endure the horror with the least interesting characters introduced.

Ariel (Ariel Levy) aids a bartender in a bind (Dayana Amigo), one of the Valparaíso earthquake's first casualties. Filmmaker Eli Roth takes his most substantial acting role to date as Gringo, the American lead of "Aftershock."

Aftershock is easy to watch, even when it gets very unpleasant. It's fast-paced but not dizzying, and tautly structured while seemingly spontaneous and unpredictable. It's not a great film, of course, but then the disaster genre has had very few of those. For something given marginal theatrical release and which a Redbox browser could easily mistake for a Syfy Original,
it's better than expected and clearly a product of filmmakers who know and love genre thrills. That they use that knowledge and passion for something so gory and gruesome is a tad unfortunate, but then people don't generally watch something bearing Roth's name for suspense and atmosphere.

One of Aftershock's more interesting claims to fame is that it contains the world's most random Selena Gomez cameo. The young actress, clearly in the midst of an image makeover despite reprising her "Wizards of Waverly Place" role this very year, briefly appears as a snobby clubgoer with no interest in and little patience for Gringo.

Three months after simultaneously premiering in theaters and on demand, RADiUS-TWC's Aftershock hits DVD and Blu-ray on August 6th from Anchor Bay Entertainment.

Aftershock Blu-ray Disc cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com Blu-ray Disc Details

1.78:1 Widescreen
5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio (English/Spanish)
Subtitles: English, English for Hearing Impaired, Spanish
Not Closed Captioned; Video Extras Subtitled in English
Release Date: August 6, 2013
Single-sided, single-layered disc (BD-25)
Suggested Retail Price: $29.99
Blue Keepcase
Also available on DVD ($24.98 SRP) and Amazon Instant Video

VIDEO and AUDIO

Aftershock displays an amateur digital video look in the Blu-ray's exemplary 1.78:1 widescreen presentation. The picture is as sharp, clean, and vibrant as it can be, but it clearly lacks the definition of better cameras more commonly used. The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio is also satisfactory. The soundtrack peaks with bursts of club music. Effects have an effective presence. The plentiful Spanish dialogue is translated by the default player-generated English subtitle track.

Nicolás López discusses working with Eli Roth in "The Making of 'Aftershock.'" Chilean actors looking for a movie role instead get an earthquake simulation while in their underwear in "Shaking Up the Casting Process."

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, PACKAGING and DESIGN

Aftershock's bonus features begin with what is billed as an "international" audio commentary. That's because it connects star/writer/producer Eli Roth, recorded in Los Angeles, with writer/director/executive producer Nicolás López, recorded in Santiago, Chile. They recall how they became friends and collaborators, then take us through the specifics of this production.

Their candor, camaraderie, and casual tone make for an easy and enjoyable listen through the closing credits' end, as they mock one another's pronunciations and even touch upon the Zach Galifianakis comparisons (although López's attempts to share Roth's e-mail address with the world are bleeped out). Yet, it's not without substance, as they reveal how the film's depictions are drawn from the cast's real earthquake experiences and the high value they place on subverting expectations. Actress Lorenza Izzo joins in briefly by speakerphone for some levity.

Two high definition video extras are also included.

"The Making of Aftershock" (9:28) complements comments from Roth, López, and the cast with clips and B-roll. Interestingly, we learn that López's background is in romantic comedies, which have featured some of this film's cast members.

"Shaking Up the Casting Process" (2:11) shows us the results of a not very nice stunt in which Chilean actors went in for a casting call earlier this year only to be tricked into thinking they were in the midst of a severe earthquake while changing.

The disc opens with trailers for Solomon Kane, Pusher, and Only God Forgives (red band). None of these are menu-accessible and Aftershock's only trailer is unfortunately absent.

The menu loops a short montage in between a seismograph border. Regrettably, the disc lacks both bookmarks and resuming. An insert within the standard blue keepcase supplies coupons for $2 off the DVD and Blu-ray editions of The Dead, The Crazies (2010), The Divide, and Scream 4.

The color and lights fade as the multicultural cast of "Aftershock" find themselves in a dark disaster movie.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Better than expected but not conventionally enjoyable, the Chilean thriller Aftershock is probably best suited for open-minded genre enthusiasts. Fans of Eli Roth's splatter flicks might also take interest, though it's tough to say if they'll enjoy this international carnage.

The Blu-ray treats the low-budget film to strong picture and sound, plus a decent handful of bonus features. If you liked the film enough to own it, there's no reason not to pick up the disc (an unrated cut now seems unlikely). But you can easily wait for the disc to hit bargain bins without feeling like you're missing out.

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Reviewed July 25, 2013.



Text copyright 2013 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 2013 RADIUS-TWC, Dimension Films, Vertebra Films, Sobras International Pictures, Cross Creek Pictures,
The Weinstein Company Home Entertainment and Anchor Bay Entertainment. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.