TIFF 2013: Incredible Found Footage Horror 'Afflicted' Rules the Night
by Alex Billington
September 11, 2013
Holy crap! This was awesome! The Midnight Madness selection at the Toronto Film Festival usually features some outstanding genre gems and this year I caught one of them that considerably impressed me. The film is titled Afflicted and if there's anything I must suggest it is to catch a screening of it as soon as possible without knowing anything else about it. It's yet another genre found footage film, but it's also genre-bending and the closest comparison I can come up with (without giving away too much more) is Chronicle. If you loved that film, you should love this, too. Afflicted kicks ass and will leave you with chills at the same time.
Directed by lifelong friends Derek Lee & Clif Prowse, the concept for Afflicted starts out as documentary following these two globetrotters as they set off on an adventure to travel around the world and film their experiences. We learn that Derek has a medical problem in his brain and he wants to experience as much of the world while he still can. After some fun footage of the two exploring Spain and France, things get weird one night in Paris and his friends fine him with odd wounds on his head and arm. When they travel to Italy, Derek begins to act weirder and weirder, becoming suddenly sick and experiencing changes. Things aren't as they seem, and that's when this gets really good. This is where the Chronicle comparisons come into play.
Afflicted is the kind of feature debut that will launch the careers of these two talented filmmakers. What's so impressive about it is how seamless and real it all feels, and that includes all the crazy shit and badass action scenes in the second half. It's hard to speak about this without giving away too much, but the film is one of the best about a certain horror subgenre since Let the Right One In. Watching the transformation, the way they deal with the found footage scenes, is thrilling. But it's the action and effects and visual work that had me totally blown away. It's kind of like that POV short film Insane Office Escape 2, but with a horror twist.
The film itself does do a good job of building up the story without wasting too much time. It feels like a full-length version of a V/H/S short film, and I'm a huge fan of that horror anthology series as is. It doesn't drag out any plot elements or show too much unnecessary footage, but it does spend enough time making the main characters likable and interesting so that the rest of the film plays well. The pacing is spot on, allowing us enough time to take in each moment as it happens but never stalling long enough to leave us bored. Don't spoil this for your friends, it's the perfect horror found footage film to experience in theaters completely fresh. It's an exhilarating, chilling experience and I hope it breaks out as it deserves the success.
Alex's TIFF 2013 Rating: 9 out of 10
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