Just when you might think there couldn’t possibly be another vampire movie made, another one comes along to prove you wrong. Such is the case with the recently released Afflicted, a feature-length debut from Canadian filmmakers Derek Lee and Clif Prowse, who have written and directed several previous shorts together.
The film starts out charmingly enough with Lee and Prowse – also the stars of the film – embarking on a year-long travel adventure, all of which is to be documented via video camera and posted on their online travelogue “Ends of the Earth,” making the movie also one that falls into the found footage category.
Friends in real life, Lee and Prowse are an entertaining duo and it occurred to me while watching the film, that they would probably be good in a comedy together. Afflicted, however, is definitely not a comedy. Despite its mostly upbeat beginning, the trip quickly falls apart after Lee meets a strange woman in Paris and begins experiencing symptoms from some sort of mysterious “affliction,” the most notable among them being violent bouts of projectile vomiting. A lot of that, combined with other gruesome scenes such as a pig slaughtering make for plenty of hard-to-watch moments. There is some fun in this film as well though – Lee and Prowse seem to enjoy stunts – and I didn’t always feel like I was watching a horror film.
While I don’t know if the film will ever go down in the annals of great vampire movies, I have to give the writers props for originality in a genre that some could describe as tired. There’s definitely no trace of the romanticizing seen in most of today’s vampire movies and – if they really were a hidden segment of our society – Afflicted would probably more closely follow the realities of becoming one than anything ever shown in Twilight.
From a found footage perspective, the film is also unique in that either Lee or Prowse cleverly have the camera strapped to themselves during scenes, so you consistently get a first person view that makes a lot more sense than some films of the sub-genre. Viewers can still expect lots of the shaky camera work that found footage entails, which I personally don’t think makes for the greatest viewing experience and lends more confusion to some scenes than there really needs to be. All in all though, Afflicted is definitely a cut above many, if not most, of the found footage films hitting the market.
Besides steadier camera shots, the film could also have benefited from a little more finessing. It drags a bit in the middle, and in the latter half of the film, the sudden appearance of Interpol agents out of nowhere at times – in hot pursuit of Lee – was a bit jarring.
Overall though, my complaints are minor. Afflicted hits on the horror and confusion of becoming a vampire in a way that most films of the genre simply gloss over. Plus, as a viewer, the film kept me guessing. Although plenty of ominous scenarios entered my head during its run, particularly in light of Lee’s character having a brain aneurysm, I never could entirely get a handle on where exactly it was going. The movie is both a good example of creative filmmaking that manages to do something different with two overplayed genres, and a strong effort for a first feature-length film. Afflicted is definitely worth a watch and one that may leave you wanting to see more from these two promising filmmakers.
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