Currently playing at NYC’s Quad Cinema through December 25 (it hits VOD in April), Aftermath centers on a hot tempered yet successful developer named Thomas Fiorini (Anthony Michael Hall) whose life gradually unravels thanks to a huge disagreement between his under pressure lead foreman Matt (Jamie Harrold) and a volatile subcontractor (Chris Penn).
Elisabeth Rohm (American Hustle, TV’s Stalker) co-stars as Thomas’ easy on the eyes wife, with Frank Whaley (Ray Donovan, Swimming With Sharks) and Tony Danza lending support as two lowlifes who, in separate instances, throws Thomas down danger lane.
Director Thomas Farone shot Aftermath in 2006, the same year of Penn’s passing (Leo Burmester, who played the town’s morally questionable lawman, died a year later). Though one can assume Aftermath’s long delay may have been due to the director or the producers ditching the film altogether, the real story emerges. Consider this – Farone could have rushed the film’s release and attempt to capitalize on Penn’s name.
Since Farone also wrote Aftermath’s screenplay, edited the film, and served as its cinematographer, one can assume he put his creative heart and soul into the project. Though several weeks of reshoots doesn’t seem interminable for a big budgeted movie, things don’t happen overnight for many indie films – and Aftermath was just part of that formula.
Farone also understood that composer David Kitay (The Ice Harvest, Relative Strangers) had other Hollywood gigs lined up, and much of the director’s Aftermath process was playing the waiting game. As Farone claims in our interview, he didn’t exactly “linger” in the editing room for years on end. Instead, by waiting for the best elements to come together – whether it’s the score, the reshoots, the distribution, and the film festival submissions – all of this took a lengthy amount of time.
But now Aftermath is finished, and for a low-budget, 84 minute crime thriller, the flick completely delivers. Tony Danza deliberately chews up the scenery (in a good way) as a wannabe tough guy and the aforementioned Burmester is perfect as the slimy, strip club frequenting sheriff.
The true standout (with respect to Anthony Michael Hall, who also does commendable, unhinged work as the lead) is Chris Penn, a perpetual scene stealer blessed with a ton of presence (for proof, check out Penn’s work in the gangster pic The Funeral). I asked Mr. Farone about his experience on Aftermath collaborating with Penn:
“Chris Penn was incredible. He’s a major talent. He’s very underrated. Careers kind of go as they go, but just from his family and his pedigree, that man is so talented on so many levels. He brought so much to the story. He taught me so much more about character development. The thing that made Chris even more special than that was he was a filmmaker at heart . . . I learned more from that man in my career so far than anybody. He could really talk film and he brought it.”
Part black comedy, part thriller, and eventually all tragedy, Aftermath is a genre hybrid that puts Farone’s manifold talents in display. After watching the movie’s refreshingly surprising climax, I wondered what Farone, who storyboards his narratives, could do with a sizable budget. I also asked him if he’d shoot his next film on digital, since 2014 is a whole different (and in many ways more convenient) world (at least technically) than 2006.
“Good or bad, I do have a strong sense as a filmmaker,” said Farone, who has two scripts already storyboarded and ready to shoot. “To answer your question, I’d shoot both. The best thing about digital (filmmaking) is it allows you to edit when you get your hands on Final Cut and it could really get you started on your craft . . I’ll always be a film purist (but) whatever calls for the best filmmaking process – that’s where I would make my choice.”