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Aftermath (2023) Review

Aftermath opens with Dr. Jane Dunning (Sally Kirkland, The Haunting of Hell Hole Mine, The Sting) talking about a major medical breakthrough before abruptly cutting away to Kate (Fruzsina Nagy, Land of the Brave, Opera of Cruelty) hurriedly packing a bag and hitting the road.

Her boss, Robbie (Joseph Richmond, I Hear the Trees Whispering) picks this time to call her and bitch about deadlines. That gets her so upset she spills her coffee, trying to grab it she takes her eyes off the road and ends up in an accident. It might even have been a fatal one because she wakes up not in a hospital, but in a mysterious forest where a gas masked figure promptly shoots her dead.

Except she doesn’t stay dead, she wakes up in the forest only to be shot again. This cycle might have continued indefinitely if not for the intervention of Bubba (Edward Apeagyei, The Quantum Devil, The Legend of Tarzan) who leads her to what he claims is safety. Like her, he woke up in the forest with no idea where he is, how he got there, or who is shooting at them and why.

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Directors Gergö Elekes and József Gallai, who previously co-directed the features Moth and Bodom, have expanded their 2020 short into a feature, and it’s something different from what I was expecting from Gallai. While Aftermath may look like much of his other work with its barren leafless forest and abandoned buildings, the difference lies under the surface.

First of all, there is more of a science fiction thriller feel to it than his usual supernatural horror plots. There’s also a very strong emotional element to Aftermath, as Kate deals with the mystery of where she is and how she got there, and the memories of her life before the accident and the answers, both recalled and uncovered, that they’re leading her to, something that becomes more important to the plot as the film goes into its final act.

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The problem is that much of the plot’s mystery is too easy to figure out. Given the opening scenes, we know whatever Dr. Dunning was working on is going to be involved. Between that and what the troops’ holographic leader (Eric Roberts, Megalodon: The Frenzy, The Rideshare Killer) says, it’s fairly obvious what’s going on. The real question is how it will all resolve. And the answers aren’t as straightforward as you might think.

Aftermath is primarily Nagy’s show, she in almost every scene, frequently without anyone to work with. She does a good job with what she has to work with, and gives us a lead character we can care about. The only other actors to get more than a few minutes of screen time, Edward Apeagyei as Bubba and Péter Inoka (The Poltergeist Diaries, P.S.O: In the Name of My Father) as Kate’s husband, provide solid support.

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Overall, Aftermath is a good film, but it does suffer from some over familiar subject matter and an abrupt change of pace in the final act. It also leaves some nagging questions unanswered. Questions like who is Eric Robert’s character and just where did he and his men come from? A bit more clarity and better integration of the film’s elements would have done a lot for the finished product.

Fans of the filmmakers and their previous films should still find Aftermath to their liking despite these issues. Fans of DIY films should also find it to their liking, although more mainstream viewers may find the low budget and familiar plotting to be an issue of its own.

BayView Entertainment will release Aftermath on Blu-ray as well as to Digital Platforms on January 30th.

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