by Justin Jasso (@jjasso007)
If you ask any person what they enjoy doing, or things they want to do in life, traveling is bound to be an answer. Some people are happy sticking to their respective countries to see what there is to offer while others want to travel the world and fully explore the corners of the globe. How many people actually do it? It’s hard to say with so many other responsibilities as an adult intervening in our daily lives. But what if you found out you didn’t have long to live, would that give you that final push to travel or do what you really wanted to but never had the time for? Such is the basic premise of the new film from first-time directors Derek Lee and Clif Prowse, Afflicted.
Derek and Clif (yes, they play themselves in the film) have been best friends for a good part of their lives. Derek begins having severe headaches and, after receiving a medical examination, finds out that he has arteroivenous malformation (AVM) in his brain and that he probably doesn’t have a lot longer to live. So Derek and Clif decide it’s now or never to take that trip around the world they had planned on. So they pack their bags and head to Europe, capturing every moment on a hand-held camera. But after one eventful night out, Derek’s health takes a turn for the worse, and he starts experiencing symptoms and phenomena uncommon to medicine and to humans as a whole. What is happening to Derek, what is his affliction and can his life be saved?
Directors Derek and Clif take the “found footage” genre and add a little different flair to it. Their initial narrative documenting their trip to Europe and movement through countries is exactly what you may see from someone being fun and nerdy through a YouTube video. It’s totally believable as they are really on this trip. Plus the camerawork looks like it’s in the hands of friends filming as we progress through the story. And when we think of this genre, we tend to have a preconceived notion of what we’re going to see. While some of that may be true, Afflicted brings something new to the table.
The strength of the film lies in the relationship between Derek and Clif. We find them as really friendly, down-to-earth, fun-loving guys and believe they’ve really been friends for pretty much ever. This solid foundation helps drive the narrative forward and, once the stakes begin to rise, we believe the fear and worry found between the two. As things get worse and worse for Derek, they still believe it’s the AVM causing the problem, which still allows for some form of levity between the two. But it isn’t all fun and games. Afflicted has some real frights to be experienced. The reason for that is, this isn’t your standard “found footage” film dealing with paranormal entities with which we’re so familiar. This is a new terror and we’re as much in the dark with what’s going to happen as Derek and Clif are. There is also a pretty high gross and shock factor, and while, in some other movies, it may feel like it’s too much, here it feels just right.
Afflicted is something new to the found footage genre and has elements that will remind people of Chronicle. Once we realize what the affliction is, we then need to discover in what direction the film will take itself. The ending may feel a little familiar to some viewers, but the journey to that point is where the real fun is to be had. The relationship between Derek and Clif is thoroughly entertaining to watch, with the ability to see the different levels of their relationship. And when Derek starts experiencing the product of his affliction, it becomes even more entertaining as a whole. So if you’re into scares, supernatural, humor and creativity, you, too, may just want to get Afflicted.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars