In ‘Aftershock,’ Mother Nature and human nature go bonkers

The underlying message of movies written and/or directed by Eli Roth seems to be this: Perhaps it is better just to stay home.

His “Cabin Fever” centered around biological and human-bred terror unleashed upon people seeking the quiet and beauty of the woods. The “Hostel” films displayed graphically the perils of traveling or studying abroad.

In “Aftershock,” which Roth co-wrote with director Nicolas Lopez and Guillermo Amoedo, once again people in a foreign country face incredible terror, putting a damper on their good times.

“Aftershock,” in limited theatrical release but also available on pay-per-view, is based upon the magnitude-8.8 earthquake that shook Chile in February 2010 and its aftermath. The movie is a hybrid, recalling the disaster flicks of the 1970s, and mixing this with the horror of brutal human behavior.

Roth and Lopez also star in “Aftershock” as two of three men who hook up with three young women for a night of clubbing. Roth is Gringo, an American tourist, accompanied by Pollo (Lopez) and Ariel (Ariel Levy), who serve as sort of tour guides. Gringo, who is divorced, finds himself striking out all over the place in meeting women.

Still, the three men eventually get chummy with three young ladies — Irina (Natasha Yarovenko), a Russian model, Kylie (Lorenza Izzo), a wild partier, and Monica (Andrea Osvart), a Hungarian and overprotective half-sister of Kylie.

In a slow-moving first half of the movie, these six people make the rounds in Chile in a travelogue-character development segment. They head to Valparaiso on the coast, where tensions between Kylie and Monica explode inside an underground nightclub, but get interrupted by Mother Nature as the massive quake is unleashed. Amid the death and destruction the six people manage to escape the nightclub although one of them is partially dismembered.

But outside even more horrors await them. A siren screeches, warning of a possible tsunami, and as if that is not bad enough, there are aftershocks and very bad people going on rampages.

Roth and his collaborators based their script on true incidents during and after the quake, such as convicts from a prison escaping and roaming the streets looking for businesses to loot and  victims to rob or assault. Roth’s scripts do not hold back on showing the dark side of human nature. Many stories come out after disasters about incredible heroism and charity in the wake of disasters. Viewers will not find that kind of behavior in “Aftershock.”

Make no mistake: “Aftershock” is a horror movie and once the chaos ensues there is no letup on the nastiness. In fact, the movie originally was rated NC-17 but was toned down to achieve a hard R rating.

Product  news: “The Walking Dead” has branched out to an industry of its own with tie-in items. TWD-based board games Risk and Monopoly will be available in stores this spring. Also, McFarlane Toys, which issued individual Merle Dixon and Daryl Dixon action figures, plans on offering a “Dixon Brothers” two-pack featuring these two characters from “The Walking Dead.”

In honor of its 50th anniversary, Disney’s “The Sword and the Stone” will be released on Blu-Ray in a combo pack that also includes “Oliver and Company” and “Robin Hood.”

Don’t forget: Just in time for Halloween in October will the Screamfest Horror Film Festival, dates to be announced,  in Beverly Hills, www.screamfestla.com, and on Oct 3-6 will be Shriekfest in Los Angeles, www.shreikfest.com

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