The disaster formula of Irwin Allen days used to be: Introduce everyone, uncork the cataclysm, grieve, then watch humanity shine with the stirring rescue effort. But in tackling the genre with the straightforward hellscape "Aftershock," horror impresario Eli Roth ("Hostel") and director Nicolas Lopez bag the triumph-of-the-spirit stuff and look to feed off the agony.
In "Aftershock," a sextet of Chilean coast rave-goers are caught in the society-dissembling effects of an earthquake, but they aren't dealing with only naturally caused injury: The local prison has been demolished too, and evil convicts are roaming the streets. If 30 endless minutes of thumb-twiddling-worthy prologue with the dopey clubbers — led by Roth himself as a charmless American, palling around with two Chileans and three attractive female Eastern European tourists — isn't dispiriting enough, the post-quake diet of gory demise, rape and torture should be enough to make anyone seek emergency relief.
Lopez is a middling ringmaster of doom at best. But there's so little context to the litany of ugliness — some played for laughs, some meant to shock — that it's hard to discern where the entertainment value lies in any of this.
"Aftershock." Rated R for strong bloody violence including rape, language, drug content and some nudity. Running time: 1 hour, 30 minutes. Playing: In wide release.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times