The apocalypse is no fun for anyone, but the dreariest possible scenario probably entails being stuck in a house without a functioning toilet and with nine of the dullest people left alive.
That’s the situation Peter Engert strands us in with the relentlessly grim and dull Aftermath, an ultra-gloomy variant of Gilligan’s Island, which traps its central nonet in a rural cabin. The professor figure keeping them alive (thus prolonging their misery) is young doctor Hunter (C.J. Thomason), who barters his medical expertise for shelter for himself and three hitchhikers he rescues from nuclear explosions. Among the survivors are resigned-to-die Rob (Andre Royo), short-tempered Brad (Edward Furlong) and his very pregnant wife, Angie (Christine Kelly), and sweet-natured Elizabeth (Monica Keena).
While the men fall into broad types — the smart guy, the nice guy, the angry guy — the nearly identical women are indistinguishable from one another in the dimness, both physically and personality-wise. Save for the Afro-Latino Royo and a grandfatherly invalid (Tody Bernard), the characters’ demographic homogeneity — mostly whites in their early 20s — lends the film an unintended resemblance to Christian college kids playing Armageddon at Bible Club.
Continued bickering eventually gives way to zombie attacks — an overcompensation for the preceding monotony, as well as a tonal and narrative misstep made all the more silly with gratuitous, ’70s-style, freeze-frame zooms.
At least Aftermath gets at one truth: When the end is nigh, you might as well save yourself the trouble of being torn apart by zombies and just turn the gun on yourself.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 16, 2014