From the first frame of Thomas Farone’s Aftermath you know it’s not going to end good for anyone involved. Watching these characters as each step they take trying to “fix” the situation only fucks it up that much more. Like the time Jake ( writer/podcaster/mancrush of mine) sent a drunken email to my house confessing the time he ran over a drifter and hid the body and then broke into my house hoping to erase the email before I read it and he accidentally ate all my salami and broke my dogs back legs. Then while trying to cover it up he passed out in my bed wearing my wife’s wedding dress. It seemed no matter what he did he was destined to end up wearing ladies garments and sleeping in my martial bed. Much like the characters in Aftermath. Unlike a drunken Jake, the characters in Aftermath don’t get off that easy.
Tom Fiorini (Anthony Michael Hall) owns an extremely successful construction company and knows it. Tom has it all: beautiful wife, big house, fancy cars and a top-notch business. Tom loves his life. Reversely the person Tom counts on running the ins and outs of his company, Matt Miller (Jamie Harrold) is less than thrilled about his life. A job he hates, a wife he resents and recently a subcontractor named Tony (played by Chris Penn in his final role) who is undermining him at ever turn. The tension between Matt and Tony finally come to a head and Matt ends up with a broken nose and Tony ends up in the unemployment line. Things go from bad to worse when Matt goes missing and Tony is the prime suspect. Tom becomes concerned for his families well-being and with the cops not being much help he turns to local gangster and gun runner King (Tony Danza). With Tony Danza in the mix, shit gets out of control quickly and it seems everyone is trying their best to burn it all down and none of them can see the outcome that is so painfully clear to us the audience.
This is character rich story and we are waist deep in characters here. Anthony Michael Hall plays a cocky tough guy construction worker down to a ‘T’. If you’ve ever had to work for one of these guys (I know your pain and I owe you a beer if this is the case!) you know what I’m talking about. Watching Jamie Harrold play his number two who has found himself in a life a he never wanted and has absolutely no joy, was not easy, but he sold it. Even when his soft-spoken and clearly caring wife (played by Lily Rabe) tries to reassure him that everything will be okay, his only line of sight is she is clearly having an affair with his boss. A man filled with this much resentment and hate has become only able to expect the worse and that might be the only reason why the worse comes his way. This being Chris Penn’s final movie released I got to hand it to him he delivers a hell of a performance. The man packed on the pounds in his final days, but did not lose that dead eye stare of man who is about to snap (much like the chair under him… that was low…unlike his blood pressure…really I can’t stop… just like Penn at an all you can eat buffet…Jesus, I need help…). He is a man who is hanging by a thread and it’s not going to take much for him to lose it.
If you told me Aftermath was an early Cohen Brother’s flick that was recently discovered in a discard coffee can (movies are stored in coffee cans…right?) I would believe it. Farone’s approach to story telling isn’t as dry as the Cohens, but taking mundane characters like construction workers and throwing them into an all out blood feud that neither party is capable of controlling. Farone is able to manage several sub-plots without ever muddy up the waters. He balances the multiple stories well and brings them together while everything is spinning out of control. Just when I thought I knew where the movie was going Farone was able to throw me curve balls and keep me on my toes. These curve balls keep coming until the ending that wasn’t just a curve ball, the ending hits like a baseball bat to the side of the head. Dark and disturbing and even when the credits hit he keeps adding those layers. It seemed every 5 minutes for the last 20 minutes there was a solid “Oh Shit!” moment I didn’t see coming. Aftermath is definitely a multiple viewing flick and has instant cult classic written all over it.