I remember avoiding films with Anthony Michael Hall in them when I was growing up. He starred in teenage coming of age flicks at a time when I was leaving those silly teen years behind. Thankfully, things and time have changed. He now stars in AFTERMATH, a thriller that will be remembered for its unique presentation.
Dear reader, please allow a little techno-babble at the beginning of this review, rather than the customary conclusion. Director of Photography Scott Beardslee incorporates rather unique camera angles in AFTERMATH. They are not kosher and generally off-skew. As a rule, this is not good, but, with this film it works. It suggests something is not quite right with the unfolding of the plot and the actions of the characters. It's similar to the 1960's BATMAN TV series, where the villains were always shot with a cant camera angle; though these shots are more subtle, and not as blatant. Beardslee also utilizes reverse framing; placing principle characters in the wrong portion of the shot to provide further feelings in the viewer that something is terribly amiss.
Couple this cinematography with un-regimented graphics and a tie-in to a graphic novel between scene changes and AFTERMATH has a unique visual presentation which helps its story immeasurably.
Anthony Michael Hall is Tom Fiorini. He is a construction company owner, very successful and very wealthy. When he first appears on screen, he is in quite the dilemma. Flashbacks reveal the incidents and circumstances on how the opening scene eventuates and we meet a plethora of sketchy characters along the way. There is Tony, played by Chris Penn. This is Penn's last film performance. He was found dead while the movie was still in post-production. He's a framer for houses, a former convict and general BA with an attitude problem. He butts heads, literally with Matt, played by Jamie Harold who is the construction foreman. When their confrontation escalates, Tom is dragged into the fracas which soon snowballs into avalanche proportions. Along the way, Tom's wife, played by Elizabeth Rohm and a justice seeking sheriff, played by Leo Burmester (who incidentally died one year after post-production was complete), and local gangster King, played by Tony Danza, will be dragged onto the battlefield.
Director Thomas Farone ends the film, but then explains the ending by inserting additional clips during the end credits. This is a rather clever ploy because not staying until the end of the credits means the entire mystery will not be revealed. As a bona-fide film critic, I always make it a point to stay until the end credits roll. I become a bit testy when folk leave beforehand, or worse, stand up in front of me and beginning talking, blocking my view of the screen. I know some of the folk in Tinseltown, and I like to see their names. With this maneuver, Farone forces the movie balers to sit through the credits or risk not knowing the who or why of the murders. Nice.
As thrillers go, AFTERMATH is an average tale. It was originally shot in 2006, and after a few re-shoots, was placed on a shelf in distribution hell. It's one of a growing number of films that never opened in Pittsburgh; however, it is currently available on home video and VOD. If you're looking for a quirky, but very watchable murder mystery, this one should fit your bill of fare. It is added by solid performances by the cast, and a bit of creative trickery behind the camera.