Unfortunately, like (almost) every week, there has to be a couple stinkers. Last week I watched two of those: Eli Roth’s written and produced Aftershock (2012) and Italian comedy The Worst Christmas of My Life (2012). Sadly, both of those failed to impress me, if you’re still undecided about them read my mini-reviews and find out why.
Aftershock (2012) – 3.5 (IMDb 4.8) – Horror (USA)
Shot and set in Chile, the latest Eli Roth production is a disappointment on almost every level. Being a fan of Eli Roth’s Cabin Fever and his Hostel films, and I think he is a very knowledgable genre expert. He also seems to be a completely sweet and likable guy, so it is almost heartbreaking to see his career take such a wrong turn, even though I realize he didn’t direct this film.
Aftershock is about a group of (unlikable) guys partying in Chile. As in most horror films, something goes terribly wrong: In this case mother nature takes a stab at playing the villainous role. The exploitation film and tries to imitate the genre’s humor, but fails miserably with badly timed jokes and unfunny remarks. The violent elements such as the rape fail to make an impact, because of the way their presented and shot and the surprising lack of nudity. While the film’s first two acts are a rehash of Eli’s own Hostel films, the third act tries to be a mean-spirited, nihilistic exploration of human nature, but ends up feeling completely unearned. The loosely drawn character archetypes, imitating The Hangover’s annoying and unfunny trio, and the poor acting rob the film from any credibility and sense of realism.
Fear and shock, can only be achieved if the viewer has any shred of belief in what’s being presented to him: Aftershock is as clichéd and unrealistic as it gets. Still, I can’t bring myself to fully hate this film, because of Eli’s involvement, the exotic location, some eye candy and a cameo by Spring Breakers star Selena Gomez.
Il Peggior Natale Della Mia Vita (2012) – 4 (IMDb 5.4) – Comedy (Italy)
The Worst Christmas of My Life is the sequel to Alessandro Genovesi’s own The Worst Week of My Life (2011), both of which star the charming and adorable Fabio De Luigi. The movie is about an ‘extended’ family spending Christmas at their bosses castle in northern Italy. Just like in the previous film, Fabio’s Fantozzi-esque character Paolo is at the centre of all kinds of unfortunate events, that piss off most of his relatives, but make the audience smile. Of course everything resolves (in a way) and Paolo saves everybody’s favorite holiday.
De Luigi and is the only reason me and my brother decided to watch this movie, pretty much expecting a silly comedy, with silly gags. Being Italian you can’t help but laugh at some of the jokes, though half the laughs are unintentional. Genovesi’s obnoxious and uninspired directing style doesn’t get any better with this one. Much like in Happy Family (2010), he is deliberately ripping off Wes Anderson’s style and quirks, and doing a bad job at that. Even in his casting choices he’s trying to imitate Anderson’s genius. Whenever the film tries something that is not Wes Anderson related it is even worse. Every scene has a score, mostly not fitting the scene at all, and the plot doesn’t come together as nicely and satisfying as the filmmakers would like you to believe. Genovesi’s nauseating copying of Wes Anderson is so distracting it takes you out of the movie, while De Luigi’s likable screen persona somewhat manages to rescue it from complete ridicule.