Aftermath is an entry into the very crowded post-apocalyptic genre of survivalist films that, quite frankly is filled with unused potential. Director Peter Engert (The Valley of Tears) manages to eek out a semblance of terror and fear with what little he has to work with in this story of nine survivors of a nuclear holocaust who all gather together in a cramped cellar in rural Texas to hole up against desperate outsiders seeking to get in, and the nuclear fallout that is slowly killing them all.
The idea of survivors with disparate personalities thrown together in tight spaces and forced to overcome their suspicions of one another to survive is not a new one. We’ve seen it done with great aptitude in the 1944 Hitchcock classic Lifeboat. The idea of a post-nuclear dystopian world isn’t very original either, it’s been used in everything from Mad Max to the short-lived TV series Jericho. So to make a film like Aftermath really successful, one has to make it standout. Unfortunately, nothing in this film does that. The screenplay hints at the people outside the cellar being some form of zombies. Even if that were original, it turns out not to be the case. They are just, as we find out, desperate people suffering from radiation poisoning and allowing the worst parts of humanity to slip out – anger, violence, selfishness.
The almost entirely indoors, singular setting and dull casting of the characters, who are the usual caricatures for a film such as this – the selfless doctor (C.J. Thomason), the violent a-hole (Edward Furlong), the do-good female (Monica Keena), the helpless pregnant woman (Christine Kelly), and the affable good guy pushover (Ross Britz) – leave Aftermath a far third tier in the ranks of films in its genre, despite flashes of good ideas and an obvious sense of suspense and tension mustered up by the director.
There’s very little visual variation in Aftermath to really make it standout in high definition, but for what its worth, the AVC 1080p encodement looks well enough and presents the dark, reserved color palette with a decent amount of clarity and lots of detail.
While the English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz/24-bit) has deep low frequency extension, especially early on when the nuclear blasts go off, the mix is a bit front-heavy, failing to fully utilize the surround channels to the fullest advantage. This makes it rather dry and boring, particularly when you are dealing with a film that is so confined in space and limited to mainly dialogue.
Image provides no relevant supplements here, not even the original trailer or a behind the scenes featurette.
The Definitive Word
Aftermath has the feeling of a slow Saturday evening made-for-TV SyFy original movie. While it doesn’t sink to those depths of campiness, it is unsatisfying in that, it’s whole plot is pretty much resolved within the first 20 minutes or so of the film. After that, its just a slow, painful wait until the end.
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