Aftermath: A Test of Love (1991)
Life After Death
Evidently "Aftermath: A Test of Love" which has since been renamed "The Other Side of Murder" is based on a true story of a horrific crime which took place back in 1974. Now I like I am sure many people will not be familiar with the true story on which this is based. But whilst I might be wrong the focus is more on the aftermath of the horror, the family dealing not only with the loss of their mother but also on the youngest Terry being severely injured following the events. It is because of this as well as a recognizable cast which includes Richard Chamberlain, Doug Savant and Michael Learned that "Aftermath: A Test of Love" is still accessible for those unaware of the true story.
When Matt (Zeljko Ivanek) shows up at his parent's they ask him to stop for dinner so he calls his youngest brother Terry (Denis Heames) to stop off on the way home to pick up their holiday photos from the processor. Having taken a short cut through his cousin's Hi Fi store he returns to find the place being held up. Mean while back at home Terry's mother Irene (Michael Learned - A Christmas Without Snow) worries when he is later but his father Ross (Richard Chamberlain - The Return of the Musketeers) is less concerned leading to Irene ending up at the Hi Fi store having gone out looking for Terry. They both end up with along with other civilians at the store forced to drink drain cleaner and shot through the head. Whilst Irene dies Terry survives but in a very sick state leaving Ross to try and keep the family together and pick up the pieces of the horror.
There are basically two stages to "Aftermath: A Test of Love" the horrific set up and then the aftermath. Now I have read some opinions which state that this is unsettlingly graphic and I can only presume the version I got to watch was an edited version because the actual attacks on the people is only insinuated. Instead we see the aftermath of being forced to drink drain cleaner with Terry not only in a serious condition in hospital but with very clear acid burns across his face.
But the real focus of the movie is on Ross not only trying to hold the family together having been distant as a father when his children were growing up but on dealing with Terry. I say dealing with Terry because of the hospitalised state he is left in, prone to violent out bursts and in a traumatised state. It is very powerful stuff when ever we not only see Terry but witness one of his outbursts and the constant state of anger and pain he is in. Unlike more modern TV movies there is no sugar coating as whilst we witness Ross doing what ever it takes to be there for Terry it is never pretty and at times uncomfortable.
The trouble is that whilst all of this is good and Richard Chamberlain delivers a constantly high performance as the father trying to be there for the entire family there is no rise. By that it feels like there should be some positive, up beat message at the end and there isn't any other than reinforcing never taking people for granted.
What this all boils down to is that despite being over 20 years old "Aftermath: A Test of Love" is still an effective drama which focuses on a father doing everything to keep his family going in the aftermath of a horror.
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