PLOT: Childhood friends Cliff (Cliff Prowse) and Derek (Derek Lee) decide to take a trip around the world, which they plan to document for their video blog. When a girl Derek picks up bites him, his gradually undergoes a horrific physical and mental transformation, all of which is documented by Cliff’s ever-present camera.
REVIEW: While the found-footage genre is rapidly playing itself out, every once in a while a new example comes along that proves there’s still some life in the formula. To that extent, AFFLICTED is the most impressive found-footage thriller since CHRONICLE. While that was a takeoff on the superhero genre, AFFLICTED has more traditional horror roots.
AFFLICTED kicks off as a full-on buddy comedy, with Cliff and Derek both being presented as fun-loving guys with a taste for adventure. Their trip is given some urgency by the fact that Derek’s been diagnosed with AVM, which threatens to kill him at any moment, making him eager to live each day as if it were his last. Stars Prowse and Lee also produced and directed the film, and within twenty-minutes, Derek’s already been bitten and starts acting strangely.
The thing about a movie like AFFLICTED is that in order to get the most out of it, you really have to walk in relatively spoiler-free. That makes it a tough film to review, but suffice to say despite some standard genre trappings – ADDICTED always manages to surprise. Running a lean eighty-five minutes, the pace is brisk and once the horror starts, it doesn’t let up until the credits roll.
For a Canadian-made micro budget film, AFFLICTED has remarkably high production values. Shot on location throughout Europe, and boasting tons of convincing stunt work and choreography this is really once of the most ambitious found-footage movies to come out in a while. It helps tremendously that Prowe and Lee make for a likable pair of heroes. Lee’s role is especially challenging, as he has to veer back and forth from being a monster into the quiet, kindly Derek. His physical and emotional agony is well conveyed, especially in the final act. By comparison, Prowse has a relatively straightforward part, but he’s convincing as the dedicated friend whose devotion is not shaken by even the most extreme circumstances. Other than the two of them, most of the other roles amount to little more than bit parts, but the stunt work is especially good. The action scenes are brilliantly staged, with an excellent sense of geography. Several set pieces put us right in the characters’ POV as they jump from building to building or are being shot at. While the action is frenetic, it’s always easy to decipher.
Obviously this is a somewhat vague review, but if too much of AFFLICTED’s plot is revealed it’ll really kill the fun. Suffice to say, this is a pretty impressive feature debut for Prowse and Lee. They show real promise both in front and behind the camera, and it’ll be interesting to see what they do next. AFFLCITED is well worth-checking out, especially if you get the chance to see it theatrically. This is the one-found footage film that would probably benefit from being seen on the big screen.