Review: ‘Afflicted’ is found footage’s antidote Special

Posted Apr 4, 2014 by Sarah Gopaul
In ‘Afflicted,’ two best friends take the trip of a lifetime only to find themselves in a foreign land when one of them becomes severely ill with a mysterious sickness.
Derek Lee in  Afflicted
Derek Lee in 'Afflicted'
Entertainment One
It's not often anyone manages to be innovative within the vampire genre anymore. There have been some great representations dating back to the beginning of cinema, but over such an extensive period of time there's bound to be repetition and countless disappointments. Afflicted combines elements from other genres to create a unique entry in the category that is simultaneously new and familiar.
Twenty-somethings Cliff (Clif Prowse) and Derek (Derek Lee) are preparing for a European odyssey, which Cliff will document with his multitude of cameras and equipment, and share with friends and family back home via brief YouTube clips. However a night of abandon in Paris leaves Derek feeling very ill with an ailment they don't recognize. Recording his symptoms soon transitions to capturing his new superhuman abilities. But all things come at a price. When Derek pays the ultimate one, he embarks on a quest to find the woman who infected him and reverse the process or die trying.
Though they are not as common as they once were, the found footage movie continues to be a popular choice, especially amongst horror directors. As a result, it's necessary for filmmakers that choose this style to use it wisely or risk being lumped in with the growing list of failures that have soured most viewers on the genre already. Fortunately, this is a found footage film that's clawed its way out of the heap to effectively utilize the style and tell an increasingly captivating story about vampirism in a way it hasn't been seen before.
This movie can be easily divided into three parts. The first is a cross between a reality show and a travelogue. Cliff narrates as they outline the trip, its purpose and then during any occurrence no matter how insignificant. His desire to record every moment can be funny, annoying and sometimes disturbing. The second act has a lot in common with another found footage movie, Chronicle, or the cheerleader's tests in the TV series Heroes. An accidental demonstration of strength leads to a series of on-camera trials to detail the extent of Derek's new abilities and weaknesses. He can lift a car but can no longer expose his skin to sunlight. Eventually overwhelming sickness and blood lust forces the duo down a very dark road. In the final act, Derek has committed unthinkable acts as his survival instincts push him to live at all costs. He evades loved ones and the police in a desperate attempt to make things right, leaving a trail of bodies in his wake.
In their feature film debut, Lee and Prowse take on the tasks of writers, directors and lead actors. It’s an ambitious project, but they prove more than capable and exceed expectations in all three roles. The script is clever in its unhurried realization that Derek is becoming a vampire. Since we live in a world in which these fabled bloodsuckers supposedly do not exist, it takes some time and numerous signs for them to come to that conclusion. As directors they make excellent choices regarding what and how to shoot the narrative, creating a sense of realism in the characters’ experiences. Finally, together they carry the majority of the film on their shoulders with ease and sincerity.
It’s not the most traditionally frightening film, but it’s often unsettling and Derek’s transformation is quite unnerving.
Directors: Derek Lee and Clif Prowse
Starring: Derek Lee, Clif Prowse and Michael Gill