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Winner of the best feature award last year at Fantastic Fest, Afflicted gives us yet another movie where the characters feel the need to document everything for our amusement. They document their meals. They document their parties. They document themselves trying to cock block their friend boning a french girl. This film at least tried to set up reasons why this would be going on. Derek has a serious illness and wants to travel the world before he croaks. Clif is his best friend and amateur filmmaker and will accompany Derek and film fucking everything. I’m actually okay with this premise. It makes sense although if I was Derek I would beat the shit out of Clif for being so goddamn annoying. For the constructs of the film though, I’ll allow it.
Like most found footage films, the first third consists of attempts at building character development by showing our lead characters having a grand old time doing what they originally set out to do. The curveball is thrown and we as the audience are left trying to figure out what is happening along with our dumbfounded camera man. “WHAT IS HAPPENING TO YOU DEREK?” I share this mans bewilderment but I couldn’t help noticing small details that in hindsight are now glaring clues as to what was happening. I guess the film did a good job in covering up what that was but once the early twist occurs the film just starts to take the cliche train towards Boring Station. The fact that this also won a screenplay award is telling of what kind of competition was in the running. The script basically took a half dozen original ideas from the last couple years in TV and film and posed them as their own. It’s like Prowse and Lee saw Chronicle, *Insert Exorcism Movie Here*, and Dexter and decided to make a film with all three characteristics. The writing and story arc is nothing we haven’t seen before and unfortunately this is why horror films do so poorly at the box office. Originality is lacking but I understand how hard it is to come up with an original horror film when there are so many coming out that have good ideas but horrible production value. It’s hard to get both right.
I will say there is promise behind this film. For a film that cost less than a million dollars to make, the special effects and camera work was actually pretty impressive. There were many scenes after Derek “changed” that were engaging and tense despite being something that has been done time and time again. If anything, the filmmakers have some promise.
Afflicted is a very flawed film that lacks originality in the writing department but the impressive special effects and camera work could mean something bigger for the two filmmakers. I didn’t like the film particularly but there was certainly some promise behind it. I just hope they find actual actors instead of playing the leads themselves because they’re better off staying behind the camera.
"This is not a disease! There is no cure! You have to kill to survive!"
The moment "Afflicted" began, I sighed and thought to myself : "Please not again such a terrible found footage movie ..." Usually they look like a documentary with dreadful amateurish movie clips It always seems as if it is filmed by some grandmother who forgot that she has to push the red button again so it will stop recording. Afterwards when viewing the film, it's a series of mundane and monotonous blurry images which sway around all the time. Not exactly something you can charm me with.
Of course there are exceptions in this genre. The mother of all found footage films "Cannibal Holocaust" received a cult status. It was (I think) a movie that used this new element for the first time. David Carter's quote is actually the explanation of the principle: "The viewer feels as if they are there with the crew, experiencing the horrors with them". "The Blair Witch Project" led to the revival of this genre and became infamous (although that status was achieved because of the hype at that time about whether or not the images were authentic). "Cloverfield" and seemingly "Chronicle" are also memorable films. But unfortunately there are also terrible creations that only loyal supporters enchant like "The Dinosaur Project","The tapes","SX tapes","A night in the Woods "and "Evidence". It's a genre that I'm really not that fond about.
"The Afflicted" turned out to be quite a pleasant surprise for me. First the visuals weren't so bad and I didn't need to run for a pill of "Touristil" to counteract the upcoming seasickness. This is partly because Clif is a documentary filmmaker and uses a sophisticated film equipment. This looks all professional and that makes that the filming is of an exceptional quality. So no garden-and-kitchen camcorder was used, mostly resulting in terribly blurry and shaking images. And "First person shooter" fans know the camera position used. So if you regularly do a bit of fragging in "Call of Duty", "Halo" or "Far Cry", then you'll appreciate this footage.
In addition, a time-honored horror legend revived again in a fresh and sometimes humorous way. The first 30 minutes are not really exciting. And you can't speak of very spectacular acting. It seemed like a travelogue made by Derek (Derek Lee) and Clif (Clif Prowse), after they left on a world trip. Atmospheric images and beautiful panoramic views were edited in a rather wonderful way. Especially the images of "Cinque Terre" and "La Spezia" looked as if they came straight out of a promotional video of a travel agency. It's waiting for the beginning of the suspense. That's the thing you are waiting for eventually. And when you're a seasoned horror fan, then it must be something very special before it provides some excitement. Well the moment Derek starts getting the symptoms that indicates that something is not right, it became fascinating. A unique approach to the phenomenon Derek is suffering from. It's done in a humorous way (experimenting with his sudden powers and especially looking for the right way to satisfy his hunger was sublime) and sometimes in a scary way (the transformation, the pulsating veins all over his body, the threatening animal sounds and the way of moving). I realized that it wouldn't be a typical horror movie involving some paranormal activity, a gang of zombies, a pandemic caused by a virus or an old-fashioned ghost story. I think it's a creditable performance by the makers, to achieve this movie with the limited resources they had.
Conclusion: The beginning felt rather forced, but when Derek's mutations manifest (and I anxiously try not to give any spoilers away), a raw and frenzy story starts. Personally, I think it's a film that brings both the found-footage genre as the most ancient horror subject ever, to a higher level. The brilliant camera technique ensures that this low-budget horror looked outstanding. A driven, bloodthirsty and creepy horror in which seemingly a new superhero was created. It started as something funny and as a joke to splice a rock with bare fists, but soon it degenerated into a nightmare. For fans of the genre this is a "must see" and it is definitely a successful experiment in the "low-budget" section.
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An extremely well made and visually impressive low budget Canadian film.
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