42nd Street Cinema

Aftermath (1994)

Nacho Cerdà's 30 minute short is merciless and realistic in it's unflinching exposé of necrophilia.
Starring: Pep Tosar, Jordi Tarrida, Angel Tarres and Xevi Collellmir.
It is the second film in Nacho Cerdà's 'Death Trilogy' with the other two being The Awakening (1990) and Genesis (1998).

Aftermath is shot entirely without dialogue and contains a haunting use of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's Lacrimosa. The sound in this film is incredibly detailed; the squelching of viscera, a squeaky crunch of a rubber glove and everything else you would expect to hear in an autopsy room.

The narrative is as straightforward as two morticians carrying out routine autopsies on two male corpses. Eventually, one of the employees finishes off his paper work and wheels the body out, leaving the second attendant on his own. Checking that the coast is clear he locks the room's door and takes out a bag from his locker, before taking the body of 'Marta Arnau' a female who died in a car crash out of the morgue's drawers. At this point the film becomes much darker, connoted by a change in lighting. The mortician begins to ritually remove the corpse's clothes. Tosar is able to efficiently convey both excitement and nervousness, while retaining a strong menace through just his eyes and changes in breathing.
He fondles the body then proceeds to viciously mutilate it, just before setting up a camera on a self timer. As his breathing becomes more and more erratic he mounts and rapes the corpse. The resulting sequence is one of the strongest I've ever sat through. It affects you on more of a emotionally shocking level as opposed to something like Cannibal Holocaust (1980) which is more about the shocking violence. The mortician then removes the woman's heart and place into a bag before washing up and leaving. Now, at home he puts the heart into a blender and feeds it to his dog, we then see him relaxing and watching television.
The film ends with a close up of a newspaper obituary for one Marta Arnau Marti.

Cerdà keeps a constant serious, yet brilliantly stylish approach to such a controversial subject matter throughout. The incredibly defined and realistic looking corpse dummies along with the other gruesome effects were taken care of by DDT. With it's gorgeous cinematography and amazing use of sound, you cannot dispute the amount of passion that went into this film's production. One could argue that it is just exploitation filmmaking, I would disagree. It is more of a statement, yes the film is difficult to sit through, but it still remains that these crimes can, have and probably will happen again and again. It also made me wonder on an incredibly personal level, what will happen to my body, upon my death? Something I will never know, something which none of us will ever know.

Aftermath, a film that is most definitely not recommended for all viewers, however I'm positively sure that avid fans of exploitation and arthouse will eat this up.


Unknown said...

I'm on the fence about this one. From a technical standpoint, it is brilliant, but in the end I felt like--why and what did I just watch? There just seemed like there a was a bit of pointlessness to it. I do give the director credit for making something so beautiful looking for a subject so vile.

the jaded viewer said...

It's got that vile feel to it but for a short its was disturbing to say the least. But Buttgereit's Nekoromantik is still the definitive film.

Aylmer said...

Love this and Genesis. The Abandoned was great too, looking forward to what he comes up with next.

BJ Colangelo said...

Short films are some of the hardest things to make, because you don't have time to give out any exposition. However, this is one that left me really unsettled and in a sick way, excited. I'm a fan of arthouse, so yeah...I ate it up.

Jose Cruz said...

Your review really sold me on this one, James. I've always been intrigued by it but after reading this you pretty much sealed the deal for me. It looks utterly fantastic... as sick as that sounds.

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