As an artist, Eli Roth always seeks to elevate the human spirit. Whether he’s working as writer-director (Hostel), as producer (The Last Exorcism), or as an actor-producer (Aftershock), you can be confident that characters will be tortured and gutted with tender loving care. Here, Roth suffers a few physical indignities himself. He plays a tourist who, with two buddies (Ariel Levy and Nicolás Martínez) and three girls they’ve just met, gets caught in an earthquake in Santiago, Chile. When Levy’s hand is sliced off by falling debris, panicked nightclub patrons kick it around the dancefloor. Should we laugh? Is this a comedy? If so, are we also expected to giggle when a gang of escaped convicts chase down and rape one of the women? (The Chilean tourism board will not be including this movie in its next promo packet.) Director Nicolás López is so tone deaf, and the action scenes so murkily photographed, that it’s impossible to gauge his intentions. A weird hybrid of the Final Destination death comedies and the Hostel/Saw cruelty fests, Aftershock is incompetently made and morally muddled, but since talent, morality, and Mr. Roth have never been on speaking terms, we’re not exactly surprised.
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