Aftermath (2005)

Yet again, director Anthony Spaddacini smoothly tackles and assaults another common social topic concerning homosexuality in our modern age, and in many ways balances it to keep audiences from assuming this as a homosexual drama, and more just as a drama about people whom refuse to reveal secrets that could help them if not pulled out in the open. “Aftermath” is an immensely hard-edged and interesting drama that places its characters down in one room in the tradition of films like “The Big Chill” and has them force out these secrets.

“Aftermath” is wisely shot in the mode of mock documentary as was Spaddacini’s last film “Unstable” which takes place after this. “Aftermath” is an unsettling and rather grueling exploration in to unsafe sexual trysts that can take the inevitably disastrous turn if not taken with caution and just like “Unstable”, Anthony and his friends are off to the beach for the weekend for vacation. Upon their initial arrivals, you can already sense the tension, and Anthony draws upon that by constantly shifting narratives, and occasional drops the mock documentary format with some filmed sequences exploring the characters psyche which go off rather well. But as the vacation progresses, so does Anthony’s hesitation to invite another friend who is HIV positive, and there’s a reason for that, which I won’t reveal.

Director Spaddacini once again explores the issue of HIV and the carelessness behind the disease, and “Aftermath” is a gung-ho dissection of socially relevant issues that really play out before us. But the best aspect of “Aftermath” are the utterly realistic performances by the entire cast including Anthony who directs and acts without a single chink in the armor. Most of the cast give very good performances including his real life sister who gives a very sublime performance here. “Aftermath” excels at startling realism that will be shocking to those whom aren’t aware that it’s just a movie. Sadly, though, “Aftermath” is the weaker of the films from Fleetstreet mainly because it feels very much like a reality show. I was never really interested in the situation this time around as I was with director Spaddacini’s “Unstable” mainly because the build-up for the vacation takes too long, and we’re not introduced in to the plot catalyst until about twenty minutes in.

Mainly though, it all really felt like a retread of “Unstable”, in spite of sporting a different approach to it. “Aftermath” is a weaker film mainly because it really just has underwhelming plot developments, even after we’ve learned of what has happened and what is going to happen. Mostly though “Aftermath” is pretty melodramatic and has many dramatic scenes that are forced. We’re even given a view of the tryst between two of the main characters that explain what happened, but it was an unnecessary scene when most of it could have had more impact if suggested. I was disappointed with Spaddacini’s film, because it never really explored the full brunt of the consequences, and the reactions towards the revelation in the climax felt too downplayed. “Aftermath” didn’t click with me as much as “Unstable” did because the premise was weak, and it felt too much like a retread of the former. In spite of that though, there are many great performances, ace direction, and Spaddacini once again deals with shocking realism and dissection of relevant issues involving safe sex.