Aftermath: In Rats Alley – Monsters (Review)

Aftermath - Season 1

The Copeland’s are still attempting to get back to Brianna after they were separated in the previous episode of Aftermath.  “In Rats Alley” continues to pile on the apocalyptic occurrences and another family member is picked up on the way to Seattle.

There is at least one more demon infested human, that Karen shoots, and a slew of fever infected people.  Brianna continues her journey and it proves to be both traumatizing and violent.  Her ride kills herself, leaving the eldest Copeland sister a gun, and she meets up with a young girl who tires to steal her phone.

The main family join a convoy thinking there will be safety in numbers. Solar flares continue to affect the earth allowing the family to see the aurora borealis in the day time. Later the flares intensify causing blackouts and stopping newer cars in their tracks.

Karen continues to be the “Rambo” of the family. At one point they see a man chasing and attacking a woman. Karen leaps out of the RV like a jackrabbit and heads after the couple.

Matt is obsessed with the “skinwalkers” (like the one who took Brianna) and later he is convinced that Donald Chang is one.  The other young man  acts strangely, throwing stones at nothing and talking about seeing monsters.

After the cellphones become operational briefly, Karen tells Brianna to meet them at Grandpa’s farm. The phones then stop working again.  Later, during another short spurt of the signals becoming active, Karen hears from Sally. Her sister is in trouble.

She borrows Vince Chang’s car and rescues her sister.  As Brianna struggles to get to her grandfather’s farm, the rest of her family stick with the convoy.

Sally is a nurse and as the family journeys toward Seattle, they pass some people being helped at a medical aid station. Against everyone’s wishes Karen’s sister leaps out of the RV to help.

The people have the fever and are violent. The Copeland’s have to leave in a hurry after Sally is attacked and Karen shoots the man.

Matt is concerned at Donny’s increasingly bizarre behavior and later when   he freaks out and runs from he RV, Matt chases him. As he catches up with Chang, the other young man acts strangely and his voice changes. when Donald moves toward Matt, he shoots the odd young man.

It turns out that Matt was schizophrenic and had run out of his medication.  Brianna catches up to the girl who attacked her and took her phone and shoots at her. Later she is approached by what looks like a flying dragon.

As un-nerving as the first episode of Aftermath was, the second in the series calms down somewhat.   Despite the freaky apocalyptic events facing the Croplands,  they seem to take everything in stride. Even Karen’s sister Sally seems remarkably unfazed by what is happening.  Matt is the only member of the family to somewhat fixated on the demons.

It is interesting to note that he is the only family member that does not face this “end of days’ scenario with a matter of fact attitude. Everyone else in the family take the appearance of demons and solar flares, as well as people turning violent,  in their stride.

At the end of the episode, Matt shoots Donald dead and Brianna is about to be taken by a flying dragon.

Amidst all this weirdness the family face each event with an almost unflappable confidence.  Although it has never been mentioned as part of the plot, it looks that the Copeland’s have been preparing for this whole thing.

They are all a bit  too matter of fact and for a former Air Force chopper pilot, Karen is very quick to shoot and ask questions later.

As Aftermath moves forward it will be interesting to see how the show will keep the pressure on.  Flying dragons are pretty freaky, although also very cool, and the plot twist of Donald being schizophrenic and not a skin walker was interesting.

Hopefully the third episode will crank up the weird and disturbing factor a bit as “In Rats Alley” felt a little blasé.

The series airs Tuesdays on SyFy.

Cast:

Carriers (2009): The World Ends with a Cough

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As apocalyptic films go, this offering from the writing and directing duo of David and Alex Pastor is pretty damned good. In case you’re wondering why their names sound so familiar, it’s probably because they gave us the film Splinter as well as a few other gruesome films. I do mean gruesome in a “good” way.

The world has been infected with a plague. This viral (and air-borne) disease is an instant death sentence. With no cure in sight, survivors are trying to hold out until a cure can be found. The Green Brothers; Brian and Danny have teamed up with two girls and they’re heading to Turtle Beach. A place from their childhood; a place that holds happy memories and a chance to escape the disease.

Starring Chris Pine as the arsehole-ish older alpha male brother (Brian) of Lou Taylor Pucci (Danny) and the self acclaimed leader of their little band of survivors. The other members of the gang are: Piper Perabo as Bobby, Brian’s love interest and Emily VanCamp as Kate, who is maybe and maybe not, Danny’s love interest.

*On a side note here. Am I alone in thinking that VanCamp could pass as a Helen Hunt clone? She really resembles the older actress. Or is it just me? Answers on a postcard please.*

At the beginning of the film, this little band of travellers come across Frank (Christopher Meloni) and his sick daughter Jodie (Kiernan Shipka) rather than help the two by giving them much-needed petrol (gasoline) they swerve their car around and cause damage to the oil pump. They wind up going back and “taking” Frank, Jodie and their car with them.

It is the addition of these two that changes the path of the film and affects everyone in the gang of four.

Frank and Jodie; deadly cargo.
Frank and Jodie; deadly cargo.

I really enjoyed the film, despite it being about the umpteenth apocalyptic film I’ve seen this year. (Jeeze, obsession much?) I decided to give it a go, even though the trailer was a bit misleading. It looked like yet another Zombie Apocalypse, but it is not. It is an ensemble “end of the world” film that relies on the power of the story and the actors to sell it.

I think they succeeded.

All the actors delivered, no matter how small their screen time actually was. Mark Moses (Paul Young on Desperate Housewives among other great roles) was brilliant as the emotionally shattered Doctor who the group meet in Farmington. Honourable mention also has to be given to Kiernan Shipka as the “masked” Jodie. Despite not getting to see her whole face for the majority of her performance, she sold it, baby, she sold it.

At about an hour and a half running time, the film is not overly long and the story moves forward quite well.

I got a huge “kick” out of one moment in the film where the group have decided to stay in a posh Country Club Golf Course Hotel (and yes, all such “posh” places must be capitalised, thank you) and they have inadvertently put themselves in danger. The two “blondes” of the gang, Danny and Kate recreate the kitchen scene from Jurassic Park (minus the velociraptors). To me, it was a highlight in the film and showed the makers sense of humour and their movie “geek-cred.”

This is a real 4 out of 5 star film mainly because of the strength of the performances. Amazingly, even though I did not like Brian, the leader, I at least understood him. So great result from “Team Pastor” and all of their cast.

Bleach and petrol, images of a post apocalyptic world.
Bleach and petrol, images of a post apocalyptic world.