Anton Sirius takes a look at TIFF Midnight Madness horror flick AFFLICTED!
Afflicted (2013, directed by Derek Lee and Clif Prowse)
Two long-time friends, Derek and Clif (played, shockingly, by directors Derek and Clif) have decided to travel around the world, with filmmaker Clif posting their globe-hopping adventures online. Starting out in Spain, they hook up with two other friends of theirs who are on tour with their band, and follow along to Paris. Derek, who doesn't have much success with the ladies, seems to get lucky at the band's final gig, but his bros find him unconscious and wounded back in their hotel room. As Clif and Derek continue on to Italy alone, Derek falls ill and finds himself starting to change into something not quite human. Unwilling to abandon his BFF or convince him to return home to Canada, Clif sticks around and decides to document Derek's condition and evolution for as long as he can...
Afflicted, above all, is a testament to the power of good filmmaking. The idea itself is little more than Trank's Chronicle re-cast as a vampire flick (and no, that's not a spoiler – if you didn't figure it out when you see the bite mark on Derek, you would when Clif starts researching the abilities Derek is supposed to possess), but Prowse and Lee's skill at executing that idea turns Afflicted into an amazingly fun horror romp. While it certainly owes something to the found footage genre, it has way more polish than your standard flick built around security cams and first person perspectives. By telling you up front Clif is a filmmaker posting edited footage to a website, they allow themselves the license to do things you wouldn't typically see in a found footage film. Of course once Derek's blood lust starts getting the better of him there isn't much time for editing and post, but even after things gets really hairy the movie does a good job of keeping its conceit intact.
Is it scary? There's a few good jumps in it, mainly built around Clif trying to find Derek after he's disappeared into the night, but Afflicted is more about atmosphere than gore and that's fine with me. This is a movie that has a very good sense of what it wants to be and where it needs to go, and it doesn't get sidetracked trying to appease every possible audience. Really, it's a pretty amazing first feature, and while you might want to dismiss it as gimmicky there's a lot of solid, smart filmmaking going on here. Prowse and Lee are a couple of guys who should be worth keeping a close eye on.
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