There is nothing more controversial than the unexplainable phenomenon of necrophilia; it is a hidden disgust of life that we as humans cannot comprehend purely because it disgusts us to our very core. Yet our inner psyche seems to have this magnetic pull towards aspects of the world that make us shocked, we cannot escape our inner curiosity which is why the phrase “curiosity killed the cat” always seems to be relevant. It’s in Nacho Cerdá’s film Aftermath that the audience become fully aware of what it means to have a sexual fascination with necrophilia.
The morgue is typically a place where those who work in the darkened depths of loss, suffering and the end of life are respectful and understanding that these bodies hold a strong significance for people. Yet in Aftermath, one mortician finds he cannot control is sexual urges during the preparation of the body of a young girl who died in a car crash. Therefore the only way for him to overcome these overwhelming sensations is to give into his lust and begin to fondle, abuse and fuck the corpse that lays upon the metal slab in front of him.
Aftermath has a quickened runtime of 30 minutes, which is a godsend to the audience because even after fifteen minutes it becomes increasingly tough to watch this depravity without feeling like dirt is cascading from your exposed skull down until the ligaments in your toes. It gets under your skin very quickly and embeds itself there to ensure you are left with this sense of feeling like you’ve committed an atrocious act just by being a bystander. Surprisingly this short extreme horror film was made in 1994, as it has the style, atmosphere and quality that would be expected from an ambitious film made more recently. Compared to some of its counterparts that were filmed in the same decade, it still is sleek in it’s approach which makes this in some ways even more unbearable to be witness too. It you compare Mick Nard’s later 1998 short extreme horror film Nekro to Aftermath, you’ll see that even though the former has a few years on it’s senior, it seems to have aged worse. There is an element to that which comes from the found footage aspect of Nekro and that it is designed to have that raw, gritty look to it, but you can see how the production of Aftermath has led to it still being watchable and looking good.
But how did Aftermath become one of the most talked about extreme horror movies? The question that anyone interested in this disturbing sub-genre wants to know. Even today with the likes of Deadgirl by Marcel Sarmiento & Gadi Harel and The Corpse of Anna Fritz from Héctor Hernández Vicens, which both look at the topic of necrophilia in ways that will corrupt the mind, nothing seems to come close to the portrayal that is forced upon the audience in Aftermath. Throughout the years it’s gained notoriety over other films, and even though it’s the second part of a third piece installment from Cerdá with the first being 1990’s The Awakening and third being 1998’s Genesis; this one nestled in the middle is the one that everyone talks about. The representation of necrophilia depicted within these eager 30 minutes makes some of the other films look like children’s lullabies in contrast.
There is good reason that Aftermath has gained it’s status within the extreme cinema world; it takes one of the most distressing taboos of human life and embodies that through pure disgust. The SFX is to be commended, and the graphic gore feels so realistic that your mind will feel challenged when trying to grasp the entrails and remember that what your watching is not real. One moment we are being coerced in with the dissection of a human cadaver, with intestines being manhandled, brains being removed and the next we are assaulted alongside the body; our vision molested by the site of the mortician becoming aroused from his caressing of the open carcass’ ribcage. It after this that we are the innocent bystander at the doorway, jaw to the floor, as we watch the protagonist mount this lifeless body and release his inner lust with a passion that even some married couples would be jealous of.
A film like Aftermath has to be complimented for being able to deliver such a disturbing fantasy to the audience within such a short timeframe. There’s an abundance of extreme horror films that still haven’t mastered what it takes to fully decimate the audience’s moral compass and become known as one of the most disturbing films ever made. Aftermath embalms its audience in the disgusting, the visceral and the depraved; yet through morbid curiosity makes us keep watching even though we feel raped through our screens.
Verdict: 4 out of 5