(2014) Derek Lee, Cliff Prowse
Afflicted starts out with 2 friends Derek and Cliff planning a year long trip around the world, Cliff being a keen film maker plans to document the entire trip. The 2 friends set off and begin their trip in Europe, after meeting 2 more friends in Spain the 4 later travel to Paris. It is here in the most romantic city in the world where Derek meets a French lady by the name of Audrey. A few drinks later Derek agrees to go back to Audrey's hotel room. The same night the Cliff and his 2 friends go to surprise Derek they find him laying unconscious and wielding a strange bite mark from the aftermath of some kind of savage attack.
After the duo wave their other 2 friends off and continue their global trip things start to take a horrific turn as Derek begins to develop a bizarre set of 'symptoms' from the recent attack...
I can see alot of people being put off by the premise of this movie as it combines 2 genres that have been done to death over the last few years, vampire films and the 'found footage' filming style. Afflicted however, manages to blend these 2 tired tropes together perfectly in order to create something that truly stands out form the crowd. The entire film is shot through hand held or worn cameras, the filming from all of these devices is extremely clear and the notion of 'shaky cam' is almost non existent, even during running sequences you could see everything that was going on. Not once was I pulled out of the story thinking 'what just happened' or 'did I see that right' certain scenes were just like looking through the actors eyes which only added to the realism.
The film was carried well by the 2 lead actors and can I say what a relief it is to have an American/Asian protagonist as opposed to your typical Caucasian male! I believed the chemistry the 2 had on film and honestly cared about their friendship and outcome.
In terms of nods to the vampire genre Afflicted does a great job of running over some classic tropes and throwing in a few elements veteran horror fans would recognise too. It related to many classic vampire elements from flims like Blade and the more recent 30 Days of Night yet still managed to make them all feel like it's own.
The pacing of the film was excellent, ramping up the tension as each day passed and a new symptom was revealed. I dreaded what was coming next and shared the sense of hopelessness with the 2 leads. There was one scene that had repeating in my head 'please don't end here!' but thankfully the film pushed right out the other side, ramped up another level and ended very neatly. No pointless cliffhangers here!
I wasn't sure what the budget of Afflicted was but they made brilliant use of both cgi and practical effects, the blood and gore was spot on and a particularly nasty vomit scene had me clasp my hand to my mouth! There were some great visual tricks when they were testing Derek's new speed and agility symptoms, all of it filmed through handheld and worn cameras adding a layer of realism and believability. This is how you do 'found footage' horror!
Afflicted was an absolute blast to watch, so carefully thought out and excellently paced. Featuring believable and heartfelt characters coupled with near perfect use of handheld cameras it blends vampire and found footage together seamlessly. Afflicted is a gem that stands head and shoulders over Paranormal Activity (what number are we up to now!?) Grave Encounters and all the other tired rehashes. This is vampires done right, 'found footage' done right and more importantly, Horror done right.