Eli Roth basically wrote the modern book on the horror subgenre of hedonistic tourists receiving their comeuppance, so it comes as no surprise that his stamp is all over “Aftershock,” a routine shock-fest about a couple of travelers led through a series of misfortunes when their vacation in Chile is interrupted by an earthquake. Roth produced the movie and stars as the sole American of the group, naturally nicknamed Gringo. While bar-hopping with Chilean friends Ariel (Ariel Levy) and Pollo (Nicolás Martinez), Gringo and his fellow pleasure-seekers pick up a trio of likeminded Russian women (Natasha Yarovenko, Lorenza Izzo and Andrea Oscart) as they continue through the night. Just when the chemistry between starts to turn sour, the ground shakes, buildings fall and chaos ensues. Director Nicolás Lopez (“Promedio Rojo”) follows the ensuing events with a string of grotesque developments that raise the body count and have more in common with the “Final Destination” franchise than any conventional disaster movie. The blood, screams, and rampant mutilation are occasionally unsettling but just as often downright hokey.
With escaped prisoners running wild on the streets, the mortified survivors face not only the titular threat but violent human ones as well. Death abounds in a ludicrous series of developments: Guns, axes and rape all figure into the cards without much in the way of innovation or even dread. Instead, “Aftershock” is a morbid showcase of grotesque acts that does a serviceable job of using the exploitation genre to critique the indifference of well-heeled travelers to third world suffering by forcing them to experience it up close. But the idea only resonates in retrospect; “Aftershock” has no earth-shattering revelations to make its mayhem stand out in the wreckage. Criticwire grade: C [Eric Kohn]
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