At the start of “Aftermath,” a series of nuclear explosions hits across the globe and once again, moviegoers, it’s the end of the world as we know it.
Though they won’t win any prizes for originality, writer Christian McDonald and director Peter Engert have fashioned a fairly involving, slow boil of a thriller that’s as eerie as it is grim.
Nine people, mostly strangers, find themselves holed away in the basement of a rural Texas farmhouse in an attempt to fend off the deadly radiation poisoning. Over the course of 30 days, the group, which includes a resourceful medical student (C.J. Thomason), a sympathetic nurse (Monica Keena), a jumpy redneck (Edward Furlong) and his pregnant wife (Christine Kelly), does what it takes to survive amid limited supplies, physical deterioration and emotional fraying. As apocalyptic tales go, it’s not the most brutal or gruesome. But hope doesn’t exactly spring eternal.
Meanwhile, outside the farmhouse lurks a bunch of irradiated zombie-types that our group of nine — or what will remain of it — eventually will have to face.
Even if this largely contained movie remains more low key than frantic, it features enough well-executed bursts of tension and strong emotional beats to hold interest.
Unfortunately, we learn precious little about the main characters, and that limits our empathy for these so-called refugees. Still, Thomason does an especially fine job as the group’s nominal leader, proving a unifying force for his cellar-mates as well as for the viewer.
MPAA rating: None
Running time: 1 hour, 32 minutes.
Playing: At AMC’s Burbank Town Center 8. Also on VOD.