After a string of recent yawn inducing found footage flicks, Afflicted proves that the sub-genre still has a lot to offer. First time directors Derek Lee and Clif Prowse, who play themselves as well as wrote the screenplay, were awarded best screenplay, best picture, and best director in the horror category at Fantastic Fest 2013, where Afflicted premiered. Out on VOD and theaters in April, this is a must see for horror fans.
Best friends Derek Lee and Clif Prowse decide to embark on a year-long trip around the world, video logging their journey with Clif’s professional documentary film making gear. Derek’s family isn’t fond of his decision; he’s developed an arteriovenous malformation in his brain and they worry he may stray too far from the reach of proper medical care should anything happen. Of course Derek shrugs it off, choosing to make the most out of whatever time he has left, and the pals begin their trip in Barcelona. They then move on to Paris to meet up with a couple of friends, where things begin to derail. When Derek takes a woman he met at a bar back to the hotel room, the guys think it’d be hilarious to interrupt his rendezvous. Instead they find him alone, lying on the bed unconscious and bleeding. There’s a chunk of flesh missing from his arm that strangely resembles a bite mark. Refusing to seek medical treatment, Derek insists they move on to their next destination but Clif becomes increasingly worried as Derek begins displaying weird symptoms. Symptoms that horror fans will recognize right away.
Derek’s transformation runs through the gamut of emotions; awe,elation, amazement, disgust, horror, desperation, panic, and acceptance. When Derek begins scaling walls in the empty streets at night, it feels very reminiscent of Chronicle. Don’t worry, it’s not another superhero movie. Because not long after discovering his superhuman strength, Derek’s body goes through some pretty cringe inducing changes. Followed by some of the film’s creepiest, edge of your seat moments. There are even some high-octane Jason Bourne type sequences. This story evolves, and not always how you’d expect.
Clif and Derek have excellent chemistry as friends with a long history, and feel believable as individuals as well. Clif and Derek are well-developed, and more than that they’re likable. So it doesn’t take long to become invested in their story. When things go awry, Clif’s devotion to save his friend is both admirable and a bit foolish. Derek’s decision to push his health aside for the sake of living also makes sense.
Because of Clif’s profession, Afflicted maybe the most polished found footage film ever. The bright and colorful backdrop of Europe is a welcome change to the dark and grainy style that’s the norm. In Clif’s gear was maybe the most clever explanation of camera’s use in any found footage film: the camera vest. It bypassed a lot of problems that are typical in found footage. It does not solve the shaky cam problem, however, and there are a few chaotic action sequences.
With themes very similar to Chronicle and An American Werewolf in London, Afflicted has so many elements that make it a great film. Though the scares are few, they’re well placed and effective. Go see this film in April. Stay for the mid-credit jaw dropping bonus scene.