Aftermath (2012) – By Kirsten Walsh

Searching for a happy ending to a tale of unimaginable disaster and horror, nine strangers find themselves holed up together in a farmhouse cellar in rural Texas. The United States has hastily become embroiled in World War 3. A young doctor named Hunter survives the nuclear attack and is thrown together by happenstance with a group of wounded and frightened victims, including Elizabeth, a strong-willed confidant to Hunter, Brad – an antagonistic redneck jackass, and Jennifer, a barely coherent young woman suffering from severe post-traumatic stress. Together, they attempt to endure the devastating holocaust as they struggle with claustrophobia and conflicting personalities. In a makeshift shelter, Hunter and his dying companions wait for news from the government while fending off hunger, radiation sickness, and a horde of frightened and dying refugees.

This film is exactly what it says it is. A survival film. That’s it. There’s nothing extremely challenging about that description or anything groundbreaking about the idea. That being said, accepting it as a survival film, it is a decent and frightening look at an idea of the human existence in the future. The words within the first five minutes are shocking and scary. Losing all communication with the west coast Three nuclear bombs have been detonated Those words, followed by two nuclear blasts (complete with the mushroom clouds), kick off the film with a bang. We are introduced to our lead, Hunter (played by C.J. Thomason) as he seems to know exactly how to handle the situation, bringing with him a young mother and her son. As they search for a place to hide, they end up in the cellar of a young man that is awaiting his family’s return from Dallas. Throughout the film, more people join the survivors, until there is a group of nine hiding out from the nuclear fallout in the cellar. Complications arise with belief factors, medical issues, and the lack of resources, and the nine begin to turn against each other.

The storyline with the film is not a strong one. A large chunk of the film is just the group sitting in the cellar, listening to the ham radio for news. The potential of the group having radiation sickness (which is verified with the random Geiger counter that just conveniently happened to be in the cellar), the looming truth of death, carries through the whole film, and as the characters let it settle in, the film just becomes depressing and sad. As with many ensemble styled films, this film has time to only focus on a few, and that focus is very limited as the plot moves along. Halfway through the film, which is described as 10 days after the nuclear blasts and exposure, radiation victims who were more strongly effected start breaking into the cellar one by one and causing disruption in the peaceful, temporary holding of the ensemble.

This film brings back small semblances of Night of the Living Dead Dawn of the Dead War of the Worlds and other apocalyptic styled films. While the idea is present and possible (especially in the current political environment), it doesn’t carry and interesting film idea through two hours. It calls to mind a slice of life film that just watches someone live their lives. It doesn’t carry the entertainment value over. The actors do an excellent job of creating strong characters, but watching them be completely helpless and die off is not something that most people want to watch.

Even more reminiscent of the Romero zombie films, people who were strongly effected by the radiation and received radiation burns are portrayed as zombies, with no verbal communication skills who keep charging the house trying to get into the cellar and house above it to get whatever resources they can. By villainizing these humans, the film takes a more horrific approach, but by that point in the film, its too little too late.

One excellent part of this film is the actors. From Monica Keena (from Freddy vs. Jason to Andre Royo (from The Wire and even the voice of William Baldwin ( from Flatliners, the cast delivers their lines with emotion and strength. Subtle storylines relating certain characters to others exist, but are hard to know if they were actually intended or not. One actor that did a stellar job was Edward Furlong ( from é„­merican History X. Furlong, known for his eccentric and crazy characters, does an excellent job of that in this film, playing an opinionated redneck who constantly bucks the system and common sense while guarding his pregnant wife.

Would I watch this film again? If I did, it would only be for the actors, and not the storyline.

This film will be released on VOD and in theaters on July 18th. You can find more information on the IMDb page: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1564368