The idea of supernatural forces awakening to wreak havoc in our world has been exploited many times over the years, with varying degrees of success. SyFy's new series Aftermath is sadly one of the most poorly executed attempts in recent memory.
Remember Anne Heche? The actress had a brief moment getting high profile parts in the 1990s, then claimed her career was ruined because of her much publicized relationship with Ellen DeGeneres. In Aftermath she plays the main part as a mother and "former Air Force" soldier, trying to protect her bumbling academic husband and obnoxious teenage children from the newly awakened supernatural horrors. The husband is played, badly, by Heche's real-life partner James Tupper. This is quite frankly remarkable, since the couple seem unable to dig up an iota of chemistry between them.
The initial idea of a tough-as-nails mother is quickly abandoned by the writing team, and by episode two, Heche's character is reduced to staring glassy eyed out the window, and making astronomically stupid decisions to keep the plot moving. Ah yes, the plot. It goes something like this:
WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD:
A family of extremely unlikable and unbelievable stereotypes live on some sort of farm in the state of Washington. The mother is a retired US Air Force pilot and homemaker, carrying herself with all the military backbone of a tulip. She is married to a parody of a bumbling academic, so inept it borders on the offensive. Together they have three absolutely horrible teenage kids, who look nothing like siblings, and couldn't act their way out of a wet paper bag. The family displays a collective IQ barely above room temperature, which is necessary for hogwash like this to work.
They start experiencing natural disasters and supernatural phenomenon, and get reports of cannibalism and mysterious plagues in nearby communities. The family, ex-military mother and all, decides to take no precautions what so ever. None. In fact, they don't even lock their doors. Mom digs in the garden, her revolting daughters bicker, and dad drives to work despite observing machine gun-toting hillbillies in drag along the road. The son sulks and broods because he's leaving for college. Or something. Who cares? Definitely not the audience.
When bratty daughter #1 is abducted by a flying "skinwalker" in broad daylight, it's time to get this nonsensical freakshow on the road. It's also blatantly clear that we're in for yet another crap YA-interpretation of traditional myths and folklore. Brat #1 wakes up in the woods somewhere, and calls mom on her ever present mobile phone - phones are a major plot vehicle in this mess. Anyway, this is when the train of logic leaves the station, and goes directly off the rails.
Bratty daughter #1, for some inexplicable reason, knows exactly where in the woods she is stranded. Ex-military mom, instead of telling her to head for home, decides to pick her up in a nearby town that we know has been quarantined. Ex-military mom gets her entire dumbass family into a old Winnebago and hits the road, leaving their perfectly defensible farm behind. It takes remarkable talent to come up with drivel like this, and actually sell it.
I have a hard time describing the mess that follows. Suffice to say it makes an average DTV teen slasher movie look like Inception. This is a series that fails on almost every level. The writing is downright bad, the acting is mostly atrocious, and the direction is erratic. Worst of all is the sense that the characters aren't real, because nobody can possibly be this stupid.
After the brilliance of The Expanse, I had hoped SyFy would be able to produce more high-end material. Aftermath is a disaster which will be fed to the sharks after one season, unless they completely revamp the production.
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