‘Aftermath’ Has Netflix Viewers Sleeping With the Lights On: Is It Really That Scary?

Netflix users are calling Aftermath the scariest movie on the streaming service.

A couple of times a year, Netflix lands a solid horror movie that scares the living hell out of a good portion of its subscribers. Aftermath (2021) is the most recent flick to send shivers down the spines of those who are looking for a little extra thrill with their Netflix and chill. Just a couple of days ago, “#Aftermath” was trending on Twitter with several folks claiming to lose sleep over the movie. Some even said they had to pause it until the sun came up to finish it.

Obviously, these flicks don’t have a huge impact on seasoned horror hounds or those who are into the darker side of the genre. In fact, some of them have been downright disappointing. So, with that in mind, I booted up Netflix and went into Aftermath with low expectations.

For those who want to avoid spoilers, here’s the TL;DR: Aftermath isn’t all that scary, but it’s one you should have on your Netflix list.

Netflix Scores a Win with Aftermath

Aftermath came out in August of 2021 and recently found traction on Netflix.

Peter Winther directed the movie and co-wrote the screenplay with Dakota Gorman based on a story lifted straight from the headlines.

The Plot

The movie’s plot follows Kevin and Natalie Dadich (Shawn Ashmore and Ashley Green) as they try to rebuild their rocky marriage. In an attempt to start fresh, they buy a house where a gruesome murder-suicide took place.

Kevin learns about the house while he’s there as part of the crime scene cleaning crew. He speaks to the new owner, the sister of one of the deceased previous owners, and gets a great deal on the property. Natalie is reluctant at first but soon agrees to go through with the purchase for the sake of their marriage.

Things start getting interesting pretty quickly. Natalie has a few odd experiences and their dog starts acting weird less than 20 minutes into the movie. At the same time, things start looking up for Nat and Kevin. He goes back to school, she gets lands a lucrative contract as a fashion designer and their relationship starts to really flourish.

All of that doesn’t last long, though. As things get weirder in the house, some less spooky things start happening. For instance, Kevin starts getting a ton of porn in the mail. Then, their car gets firebombed because their address is connected to a White Power cell. After that, a personal ad featuring their address and Natalie’s photo invites men to come to the house, force their way inside, and rape her appears online. Things get worse when a young man shows up at the door in response to the ad.

In the end, we learn that the husband of the previous owner is behind all of those things, including the ad. The rest of the weird happenings, on the other hand, remain a mystery until the middle of the third act.

Much like The Boy, we learn that the house isn’t really haunted. Instead, the previous owner’s deranged jaded lover is living in the walls and has his eyes on Natalie, and is willing to go to any length to take her.

The True Story Behind Aftermath

The thing about Aftermath that scares Netflix viewers is the “based on true events” title card in the opening credits. Technically, a good portion of the plot is based on the story of Jerry Rice and Janice Ruther.

Back in 2011, Rice and Ruther put in the winning bid on a home in Carmel Valley, California. The couple outbid Kathy Rowe, who didn’t take the loss lightly. Soon after the couple moved in, strange things started happening.

According to a local ABC report, the couple’s mail was stopped over Christmas. They were also charged for thousands of dollars worth of magazines and books. Additionally, their house started appearing on online home listing sites for sale. On Valentine’s Day, several of the women in the neighborhood received cards that appeared to come from Rice.

The personal ad inviting a stranger to the house for a little rape fantasy play was real, too. In fact, Netflix viewers heard some of the actual correspondence while watching Aftermath. “I love to be surprised and have a man just show up at my door and force his way in the door and on me, totally taking my while I say no,” Rowe, posing as Ruther,  told one of the men that responded to the ad. They used the same copy in the ad in the movie.

Fortunately, the psycho living in the walls wasn’t part of Rice and Ruther’s story. However, there have been countless instances of people living unnoticed in attics and crawlspaces over the years.

Why You Need to Add Aftermath to Your Netflix List

Aftermath probably isn’t the scariest movie you’ve ever seen but it’s worth checking out if you have Netflix. The movie did a good job of building tension and keeping me guessing until the big reveal. More importantly, the story and characters kept me engaged. The chemistry between the leads made the Dadiches a couple I wanted to root for. When they were on good terms, they were adorable. When they fell out, you could still see the love between them. All that combined with some excellent pacing and editing made the nearly two-hour runtime fly by.


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