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Aftershock

Year: 2012
Production Co: Cross Creek Pictures
Director: Nicolás López
Producer: Eli Roth
Writer: Nicolás López
Cast: Eli Roth, Ariel Levy, Nicolás Martínez, Andrea Osvárt, Lorenza Izzo, Natasha Yarovenko, Selena Gomez

Imagine a movie about the aftermath of an earthquake starring and produced by Eli Roth, and Aftershock is very much it. Gleeful slasher movie pleasure is taken in shards of glass embedded in a woman's back, a tonne-weight piece of stone pinning a bloodied victim to the floor and a heavy nightclub speaker lying on top of a guy before cutting him in half. It's as if the earthquake that strikes is Jason Vorhees, slinking around the night looking for the goriest damage it can do to victims.

Roth is known only as Gringo, and together with insipid friend Ariel (Ariel Levy), Ariel's local friend Pollo (Nicholas Martinez), he's enjoying the sights, wineries and underground clubs in Chile.

The three hook up with three girls and decide to spend a few days together when Pollo promises he can get them into the best secret party in town. We spend 20 minutes getting to know the characters, including Russian beauty Irina (Natasha Yarovenko), party girl Kylie (Lorenza Izzo) and her straight-laced, overprotective sister Monica (Andrea Osvárt), before anything untoward happens.

Monica and Kylie are arguing about the latter's drinking and drugs when the club starts to shake, rattle and roll in the worst way. Lights and equipment fall, the barmaid is pinned under the drinks shelf, the smoothie cutting in on Gringo's action with Irina is pinned under a huge speaker while people trample it further to get out. It's a bloodbath inside and when the group escapes to the outside things are no better, cars, bodies and wreckage strewn everywhere.

From there it could have been a traditional Hollywood hero story of the nastier members of the group getting their comeuppance while the nice guys and girls shine through, but – just like The Walking DeadAftershock's true strength is that it gives you no clue who's going to undergo some horrible fate next.

In fact, thanks to a fearsome gang of thugs roaming the neighbourhood, there's also a pervasive threat of sexual violence. Unlike most good-time slasher films, writer/director Nicolás López is only too happy to act on it, seemingly with little intent except to be unflinchingly nasty and make you feel awful if you've enjoyed the film until that point.

The rest is a by-numbers killfest as the group's numbers are gradually depleted in the broken city. When the film does slow down for the characters to grieve for each other, it's like one of those Korean disaster films, so much high emotional wrung out like a sponge it doesn't seem to belong in what you thought was a fun horror movie.

But perhaps López' intentions were clear from the outset. As the credits appear on screen when the movie starts, the soundtrack of a subterranean baritone in the Earth is so loud and deep the whole theatre shakes. Gaspar Noe proudly admitted his flesh-crawling opening titles for Irreversible were designed to make the audience sick and upset – it seems to be López' aim with Aftershock as well.

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