First time feature filmmakers Derek Lee and Clif Prowse have reserved themselves a place in the kingdom of horror. Blumhouse Productions (“Paranormal Activity,” “Insidious) now have solid competition when it comes to perfecting the art of arousing screams, chills and thrills at the movie theater.
We have seen plenty of found-footage stories with paranormal plots and one too many vampire tales, but never a fusion of the two. That is, until “AFFLICTED” came along. The realistic aspects and haunting effects turn this shoe-string budget movie into a memorable nightmare. And I mean that in the best way possible. Just when you think the film is about to end, the camera keeps rolling with a turn that whips you around and slaps you in the face with intensity.
The audience is thrust into the beginning of Lee and Prowse’s journey around the world. The film opens as a documentary; introducing us to two lifetime friends who have planned a global backpacking trip. Prowse will stuff his backpack with multiple cameras and share their adventures via blog and video uploads. It is all in good fun, but also a risk for Lee, who was recently diagnosed with a brain aneurysm. Perils aside, the two are determined to make a mark with their travel blogging. They certainly make more than just a mark. Blood is smeared, lives are taken and soon Lee and Prowse become convicted felons. Not more than a couple of days into their worldwide expedition, something goes terribly wrong. Lee’s one night stand with a beautiful French woman in Paris changes his life forever.
The issue I’ve had in the past with found-footage horror films, is the amount of time it takes for something interesting to occur. An audience never wants to be stuck in a theater thinking they are simply watching a home-video of a stranger’s not-so-intriguing life.
But “AFFLICTED” wastes little time getting to the frightful punchline. The special effects are applause-worthy, the make-up is outstanding and the performances are natural. It helps that Lee and Prowse, who also co-wrote and directed the film, are unknown actors. This adds to the realistic quality of the story. You feel as if you are following the life events of real people. I sympathized with them when they were in pain, and rooted for them when they sought help. Of course, this is a testament to their talent on and off camera. It’s mind-boggling to think that the 7-person crew had only one month to shoot. Editor Greg Ng, DOP Norm Li, Make-up artist Tamar Ouziel and producing team Chris Ferguson, Zach Lipovsky, Jason Dowdeswell, Stuart Ford, Brian Kavanaugh-Jones and Zak Pashak all deserve praise.
The best facet of “AFFLICTED” is its originality. We have seen the demon possess a body and the vampire fall in love with a human before. Lee and Prowse combined horror and fantasy; making a gory thriller, which depicts vampirism as a disease, rather than a fantasy. Forget “Twilight,” where super-human strength and flying look like a dreamworld. This new take won’t put ‘vampire’ at the top of your Halloween costume list anymore.
If the sight of blood doesn’t make you squirm and shaky cameras won’t give you a headache, “AFFLICTED” is a must-see for all horror fanatics. As the film has already received critical acclaim from multiple film festivals, this could be the first of many terrifying adventures from Derek Lee and Clif Prowse.
By Pamela Price
In theaters April 4th, 2014
Running Time: 89 minutes
Rated R for disturbing bloody violence, and language.