The intriguing thriller "Aftermath" could be called blue-collar noir. With its clutch of shady characters, pitch dark humor and blunt talk, the film evokes such 1990s-era criminal outings as "Fargo," "Reservoir Dogs" and "True Romance," but set in the world of home construction.
Despite an effectively unsettling visual style and kinetic storytelling, though, the film can't help but feel hamstrung by its lengthy history: Shooting began in late 2005, but due to the 2006 death of co-star Chris Penn plus subsequent complications and delays, the film reportedly wasn't completed until 2012.
The result is a bit of a patchwork, one that's often clever, other times convoluted, but always watchable — if only to see what might happen next. That the movie works as well as it does is a testament to writer-director Thomas Farone's persistence and clear connection to his cagey material.
Shot in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., "Aftermath" follows the travails of tough, successful housing developer Tom Fiorini (Anthony Michael Hall, quite good), who finds himself in a sticky wicket after a physical fight breaks out between his lead foreman, Matt (Jamie Harrold), and an ex-con subcontractor, Tony (a shambling Penn). Matt strangely disappears, Tom fires Tony and various tables begin to turn in dangerous ways.
A gun-dealing hit man (Tony Danza), a cranky local cop (Leo Burmester, who died in 2007), Tony's sketchy friend (Frank Whaley), Tom's pregnant wife (Elisabeth Rohm), Matt's neglected spouse (Lily Rabe) and other vivid characters enjoyably factor into the twisty, fast-paced proceedings.
MPAA rating: R for violence, language and sexual content.
Running time: 1 hour, 24 minutes.
Playing: Laemmle's Town Center 5, Encino.