Well that was depressing.
The wars in the middle east trigger a nuclear catastrophe, and survivors find themselves trapped in a basement in Texas after their country was hit by multiple nuclear strikes.
Recommended by a fan of Cinema Cocoa, I had zero expectations and no knowledge of the film. Limited release in 2012, the film stars the seemingly elusive Edward Furlong (yep, the teen star from Terminator 2) but not in the lead role. Aftermath has been resoundingly slated, although I believe somewhat unfairly.
Granted, there’s a lot to rag on with it.
Somewhat trying to be the nuclear holocaust equivalent to The Walking Dead which started two years earlier, we open with a lone hero quickly coming to aid a section of survivors when the bombs fall. A mother and her young son, a man and his pregnant partner, an older man and his nephew and the nephew’s friend. At first it is a frantic rush to collect supplies, but soon it becomes a claustrophobic drama within a basement dwelling, since the world above is irradiated by fallout.
This film is a grueling, uncompromising experience; something of a laundry list of terrible things that happen to humans when under the effects of massive nuclear fallout. To the extreme. I can appreciate the efforts of the cast, there’s a lot of emotion on display, Furlong is perhaps given the weightiest role, which was quite nice to see! Especially considering the last time I saw him was one of The Crow sequels… yeah. The soundtrack and photography of empty locations, set dressing, while all very low budget, did give a good sense of loneliness and hopelessness. The best elements are mostly stereotypes of the genre, such as the radio communications (voiced by William Baldwin) and messages they listen to, suggesting a broader sense of disaster. Quite haunting. It did feel like a layman’s Walking Dead.
But that isn’t enough for how unrelenting this film is.
There’s barely a moment of peace, of reflection or personality. In fact in a movie lasting ninety minutes, it is well into an hour before we get any levity… and that levity only lasts a few minutes.
Sure, I understand; a holocaust hitting America would not be a time for lighthearted conversation, but when your only point of humanity on display is Edward Furlong’s ranting and raging about the Government… something isn’t right. Humans are capable of reflection in dire times, or able to lighten spirits. Look at this year’s 10 Cloverfield Lane for a great example of tension mixed with casual conversation. Basically, Aftermath‘s script and material is far too bleak and not stimulating to be rewarding. You are just left feeling morose and sad.
While not inherently bad; the performances are okay, the aforementioned photography and set design, even the make-up was decent, it is a very empty and soulless experience. I wanted to know these people, if I have to watch someone die horribly, then at least make me feel something for them.
Something of an eye opener for those unfamiliar with the horrors of nuclear catastrophe, but for the rest of us, something of a by-the-numbers psychological drama.