The setup is strong: an American known only as Gringo (Eli Roth) and his Spanish-speaking pals are on a tour of Chile. It’s a hedonistic succession of wine-country days and disco evenings, with plenty of alcohol consumed and buxom beauties ogled. After 30 minutes of intriguing character development – Gringo is a divorced father with self-confidence issues; his boorish buddies are similarly complicated – everyone gathers at a nightclub where a massive earthquake brings the walls tumbling down.
It’s at this point that Nicolás López’s slick shocker turns into an unholy amalgam of disaster film and slasher flick. The tectonic shift brings the city to a standstill, empties a jail full of psychotic prisoners on to the streets and unleashes a towering tsunami slowly making its way to shore. As Gringo and co wander around looking for safety, they are subjected to the kind of indignities you expect in a movie headed by Eli Roth (the creator of the ‘Hostel’ films also co-wrote and produced this). Each character’s suffering, be it the loss of a hand or a terribly prolonged rape, is lingered over with sniggering intimacy, until a jokey moment of death (open a manhole, get slammed by a car) frees us of any need to see them as human.