"“When this picture gets dark, it gets really dark...”"

Though being a disaster movie premise we've seen countless times before – that of an innocent group of people suddenly at threat and desperate to survive in an apocalypse type scenario –director Nicolás López ensures that Aftershock avoids the conventions of the horror genre, in what is an absorbing and immensely entertaining piece of cinema. All getting a little bit Lord of the Flies, even Selena Gomez gets involved with a brief  - and completely needless – cameo. What more could you possibly want?

Set in Chile, we delve into the escapades of a group of happy go lucky travellers, one of which is an American, affectionately nicknamed as 'Gringo' (Eli Roth). When the collective meet a group of carefree and adventurous women, they join forces to embark on a memorable venture across the South American country. However their journey is stopped to a halt, when a severe earthquake strikes, not only putting their lives at risk from all the destruction caused, but also setting a host of surviving prisoners free from a close-by prison which collapsed during the tremor. Which means our protagonists are battling on two fronts; against Mother Nature herself, and those of whom she created.

Where Aftershock excels, is within its character development, providing our lead roles with some background and context. Playing on the naturalistic, human traits early on, we crucially invest in them emotionally as we reach the latter stages, as we genuinely care about their survival. There are some hilarious moments at the start of the picture, as this film is by no means a horror from the word go, and in fact could almost be perceived as a romantic comedy. It simply becomes suspenseful and intense in the flash of a second – and this works well as it reflects real life in that sense, how natural disasters such as earthquakes can just hit you at the most unexpected of times, in what proves to be an impactful change of tone.

When this picture gets dark, however, it gets really dark – as it continues to play on the realism, particularly in the way people react. When characters are killed, there isn't the usual, nonchalant reaction you get in horror movies, but instead we see genuine distress, as the other characters are devastated to see a friend pass away. There is an intense atmosphere too, enhanced by the fact the antagonists of the piece are other human beings and the planet itself, which is always more threatening, given the believability that simply doesn't come with supernatural productions.

Going against type on many levels – even in how our group picks up survivors along the way, growing in numbers as the emphasis shifts between varying characters - something you rarely see in archetypal horror movies. López is not afraid to takes risks, and must be commended for offering a unique picture. However for all of its strengths, thanks to a hugely fun opening quarter, it's so enjoyable and the characters so likeable, that you almost wish it had stayed that way, in a similar vein to the likes of Shaun of the Dead. However when disaster strikes the film completely loses that comedic touch – and sadly some of its effervescent charm in the process.