Fantastic Fest 2013: Refreshingly Cool Found Footage Horror 'Afflicted'
by Jeremy Kirk
September 27, 2013
Two genres get a recharge in Derek Lee and Clif Prowse's Afflicted, the latest found footage monster movie that might have some, age-old fans of the genre rolling their eyes. It takes a lot to kick a found footage movie into the land of creativity, and, fortunately, there are filmmakers like Lee and Prowse still out there waiting to impress us. Afflicted uses what works best in the found footage pseudo-genre and even shows us a thing or two we've never seen before, but that's only half of the film's freshness. The monster movie and ultimate story of friendship and one man losing his humanity are powerful and engaging. Afflicted rips the throats out of its horror competition this year, giving us the coolest, most energetic genre film in a while.
Lee and Prowse star as themselves, two friends who are taking a year out of their lives to travel around the world experiencing all the wonders the planet has to offer. During their trip, they'll be documenting everything via GoPro cameras that livestreams it all up and out for the world to see. The troubles begin when Lee, after a strange encounter in Paris with a mysterious woman (Baya Rehaz) is struck with an illness. This changes him, alters his natural, human instincts and abilities, and what begins as a cool, subtle superhero movie slowly slips into the darkness of a damn good horror flick.
The merits in Afflicted and the energy they bring begin long before Lee's eventual...affliction. The two leads are clearly friends, their camaraderie coming up naturally. Knowing about the dangerous waters the film is about to steer into is made all the more suspenseful in the very real dynamic at work between them.
But all of that, important as it is, doesn't hold a candle to the excitement Afflicted throws at us after the hook comes and goes. That hook, the other genre Afflicted has such a marvelous time giving such a refreshing spin, is best left unspoiled. To know that Afflicted is at first an infection movie, then a monster movie, is enough. Trailers that come out for the movie may give away too much, and the answer to just what horrors are at work around Lee and Prowse may be revealed. It's well enough to know that when Afflicted's horror teeth come out, they are sharp, they are slick, and they are awesome.
Lee and Prowse do incredible work with the cameras they're utilizing, capturing everything in such a way that any issues with special effects, CGI and practical, are easily covered. Everything we see in Afflicted appears real, adding to the horror momentum. But the creativity here goes way beyond decent special effects. This isn't a movie about people being chased by something horrific, which we only see in glimpses via their bouncing camera views. The switch-up on one genre adds to the switch-up on the other, and Lee and Prowse are able to take the audience in literally new directions. They put us directly in the middle of sequences like a chase through an Italian village and an assault by a SWAT team, pushing the story - and the horror - ever forward.
Afflicted's twists, surprises, and shocks come out of nowhere, keeping your attention in its grasp right up until the credits roll. Be sure to stick through those credits for a stinger, as well, a little taste of what Afflicted 2 may be about. With Lee and Prowse back on board, an Afflicted 2 would be something to look forward to. It's so good that Afflicted has enough to go back in for, and the amount of enjoyment the film is able to achieve is sure to keep every rewatch just as entertaining as the first.
Jeremy's Fantastic Fest Rating: 9 out of 10
Follow Jeremy on Twitter - @JeremyKKirk