Review by Derrick Carter
Running Time: 1 hour 25 minutes
MPAA Rating: R for Disturbing Bloody Violence, and Language
Directed by: Derek Lee & Clif Prowse
Written by: Derek Lee & Clif Prowse
Starring: Derek Lee & Clif Prowse
In this day and age, it’s extremely difficult to make a splash in the found footage world. This is especially true if the found footage debut is a horror film, because there have been so many crappy ones that flooded the market. AFFLICTED did make waves with its premiere at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival and has gone on to receive some rave reviews. The premise is a clever one and there are moments that are phenomenal. Directors/writers/actors Derek Lee and Clif Prowse clearly put a lot of thought and effort into their debut. They have promising careers ahead of them (especially if they have more terrifying ideas up their sleeves). As with almost every found footage piece though, AFFLICTED does run into a significant problem that downgrades the experience from what it potentially could have been.
Derek is an adrenaline junkie and Clif loves filmmaking. Together, they have scoped out and planned a year-long trip around the world for the ultimate international travel blog. Things go well for the first week or so, but then Derek runs across a mysterious woman at a night club. After a one night stand gone wrong, the femme fatale disappears into the night and Derek is left with some strange symptoms. It seems like a virus has made its way inside of Derek’s body and is changing him. Some of these changes are exciting and others slowly reveal themselves as dangerous. Without spoiling too much (though many diehard horror fans can accurately guess what’s really going on), their trip takes a very wrong turn and things spiral violently out of control.
AFFLICTED is a spectacularly executed in the sheer effects and camera work. It relies on atmosphere, but does get appropriately gory throughout. Plenty of scenes made me wonder how the directors pulled off stunts or angles. The combination of practical work and CGI blends seamlessly, which is how it should be done in any film (not to mention that this is a low-budget cinema verite effort). The scares themselves range from predictable to a few big jolts that got an out-loud swearing reaction out of me. The script takes a daring path about halfway through. This turn changes all of the viewer’s expectations and creates some absolutely insane scenarios that left my jaw on the floor. The entire film expertly pulled off in a lot of ways, but there is one key thing that presents a problem.
Though Derek Lee and Clif Prowse pull double-duty as writers and directors, they also appear in front of the camera as the two protagonists. They can be convincing enough, but it seemed as if they were trying too hard in certain parts. This especially goes for Derek Lee. He’s got the creepy movements and scary faces down for his AFFLICTED character, but huge chunks of his delivery feel wooden. If a single misstep is made in the found footage style, it can soil the experience for a good portion of the movie. It attests to the talent the duo have behind the camera that I was frequently sucked back in, despite an unconvincing conversation or silly piece of dialogue that popped up a few minutes before. In the climax, there was a clear attempt at an emotional impact on different levels and it worked on varying degrees. These points would have worked much better, if Lee hadn’t been overacting.
As a whole, AFFLICTED is a flawed in the acting, but is so well done in nearly everything else that it warrants a recommendation. Lee and Prowse produce moments of excellence that were, to put it into a single word, stunning. There are some real frights to be found and a few terrific (seemingly) unbroken sequences later on. The effects work is fantastic and the story is interesting, it’s just a pity that the acting wasn’t stronger. That’s something that can make or break a film in this subgenre, but it winds up being a memorable experience nonetheless. By this point, you already know if this is your cup of blood. Drink up!