Film Review – Afflicted

Afflicted-poster-web

Year: 2013

Country: Canada/USA

Director: Derek Lee, Clif Prowse

Writers: Derek Lee, Clif Prowse

Cast: Derek Lee, Clif Prowse

As an opinionated pompous film nerd it is not often you want to get your mouth firmly shut by a film which does everything you hate in cinema but still manages to entertain, but Afflicted has done just that.

Being another in a ceaseless line of found footage films (even worse – horror found footage) complete with its own cult genre twist – that cant really be alluded to as it would ruin the plot – every visible indicator said we were not going to enjoy this.

Afflicted plays the home made camera footage gimmick by the numbers, with dull characters intended to be more realistic; the kind of basic cinematography necessary with a handheld camera; and a crisis story which takes forever to kick into gear.

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Beyond these predictable staples there really isn’t that much going on and there is little to distinguish Afflicted from the dozens of other similar films, but small in scale and uninspiring in its ambitious this may be, what it does attempt is mostly executed exceptionally well.

Following two American ‘bro’s’ embarking on an emotional trip across Europe to realise the dream of Derek, who has been diagnosed with a terminal illness, things go from hope to despair as the unlucky bugger is stricken by another mysterious illness. Refusing to cut this life affirming journey short, Derek and his buddy Clif find themselves becomming a Youtube hit as terrible changes begin to manifest.

Despite the vaguely irritating, emotionally touchy, and blandly middle class characters so familiar to these kind of low budget video diary films, there is just about enough decent acting to keep things interesting. As co-writers and directors, Derek Lee and Clif Prowse take up the lead acting duties and just about manage to carry the story despite not harbouring any stand out acting chops. Lee makes the bigger impression as the main character, but most of the acting boils down to moments expressing shock at something unnatural happening.

The low-fi camera work is more lively than most hand held films and much less restrictive, with a few neat tricks and decent special effects to make the action scenes surprisingly effective. Occasionally they are even good enough to make you wonder just how it was achieved on such a small budget but as usual the jerky and low resolution camera is used to obfuscate and provide less opportunity to scrutinise the effects.

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Once revealed, the cult genre story line turns out to be something much more popular than is suggested by the title or promotional material, and one which has curiously not yet been attempted in this style. Ironically Afflicted is significantly held back by the need to hide its main selling point in order to preserve the impact of the story but it is an unavoidable contradiction. Perhpas word of mouth will spread interest, and deservedly so. For a genre which has produced so much commercialised tripe in recent years it is refreshing to find an obscure film with a lot going for it and doesn’t feel the need to jump on the band wagon.

Despite the entertaining ride and some thoroughly decent moments which raise Afflicted well above expectations it does still manage to fall down at the last. An important character brought in at the end doesn’t fit in to the authentic feel of the rest of the film and things start to veer a little too far into the genre cliches. A stronger, more original ending may have elevated it even further.

Despite its flaws this is undeniably a decent effort from Lee and Prowse who have shown what positive things can be done with such overused and abused ideas. They may very well be worth keeping an eye on.

Verdict:

WORTH A WATCH

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