What comes after World War III?
Steve Barkett stars in “The Aftermath”. He is also the writer, director and producer. That you’ve likely never have heard of him really tells you right away that the film isn’t heralding the arrival of a multi-talented force both in front of and behind the camera. Barkett’s character, Newman, saves kids and rescues women, falls in love, is appropriately haunted by the death of his wife and child from years before and talks of dishing out justice to the scum who invaded his house and killed the women and children he stupidly left behind when he went out on one final supply run. He tells us that he doesn’t want live in a world where baby killers walk around unpunished. Ah, but it is the apocalypse and once he finds water and food that’s safe to consume, fights through the hoard of mutants infesting the countryside, and avoids the radioactive fallout that keeps falling from the sky, he can finally set things right by bringing a few thugs to justice! It’s clear then that Barkett’s heart is in the right place.
The idea for the movie (astronauts return to Earth only to find it’s been nuked) is interesting. The problem though is that if this is Barkett’s personal vision (and with his credits on it and the fact that he also cast his family in various parts it seems clear that it is), the end result causes us to wonder whether his vision wasn’t clouded.
The story is threadbare. After crash landing off the coast of L. A. and battling some mutants, Newman and another astronaut set up shop in a house. (Director Barkett outdoes himself with a laughable montage that includes shots of them putting a bust back on its pedestal and cleaning out the entryway to the home).
Barkett understands that after the world ends, the chances for decent guys to get a woman are great. It’s only natural that a gal is going to be attracted to a guy who isn’t knocking old men’s teeth out, shooting kids and trying to rape her. So it comes as no surprise that he hooks up with a babe who just escaped from the clutches of Cutter, the local evil thug. And it’s no surprise that after she says there is still a woman and little girl being held hostage there that Newman plans an assault on Cutter’s compound. He builds a laser weapon but only uses it as a distraction. Do I sound confused? I am.
Everything goes according to plan until Newman amateurishly lets Cutter escape. This sets up the inevitable revenge attack by Cutter and Newman’s final confrontation with the gang. As if it is not enough that everything is predictable, the film is afflicted with the usual problems. Watching Barkett perform in front of the camera is like watching an emotionally crippled five-year-old try to act. The editing seems haphazard at best and silly narration is dubbed in. The action scenes are overly staged and not well thought out. Viewers deserve to be entertained, but this film is substandard throughout.
“The Aftermath” isn’t much more than trash cinema, but it is captivating in how much it tries. Between nearly silent bouts of dull exposition come a flurry of dorky fistfights with mutants, messy shoot-outs, and just because, bouts of nudity and rape, there is a thread of a story. Barkett’s vengeance barely reaches a believable degree, but he’s trying.