Afflicted isn’t a found footage film, but rather a mockumentary documenting Derek Lee and Clif Prowse’s year long trip around the world. The film does, however, use the same techniques we’ve seen in previous found footage horrors. Luckily, the filmmakers in charge of this creature feature know what they’re doing.
In fact, there are a lot of things filmmakers/co-stars Lee and Prowse do brilliantly in Afflicted. Firstly, the duo cover their asses extremely well. Prowse, who plays the film’s documentarian, uncovers his gear and realistically shows exactly how each angle will be captured. This includes mini detachable cameras and a camera that attaches to the front of a vest.
It doesn’t bluntly come across as the film trying to cover holes as quickly as possible. Because of how this “documentary” is set up, it’s believable that Clif is prepared to make a creative, professional project.
The doc within Afflicted also has a happening vibe to it. The friends plan to vlog every step of the way to an online community, which means the way the film is presented is energetic and inviting. It also helps that Prowse and Lee have a naturally friendly relationship. We have fun watching these two establish themselves and interact with each other.
But, then the trip hits a bump. After an alluring hook-up in Paris, Derek finds himself suffering from strange symptoms. He can’t keep any food down, his skin starts to deteriorate in the sunlight, and his strength becomes unfathomable. It’s clear that Lee is not his ordinary self.
It’s tough to describe anything more without giving away too much. The tonal shift from a light mood to a darker, scarier ride is smooth and the film still keeps up with the shooting format it has built. The special effects are convincing, and it’s both eerie and cool to see Derek become something different during fast-paced action sequences.
Afflicted has its fair share of jump scares, but they’re used to great effect. The best ones feature the camera with its spotlight suddenly discovering something and lingering on the creepiness as its frozen. It’s very unsettling stuff. It’s to also note that the gore is certainly not for the squeamish – and may even be too much for select gore hounds.
While it sustains its excellence during its first couple of acts, Prowse and Lee’s film starts to wobble during the conclusive material. Mostly because the duo have kicked out some key beams that were supporting their horror/thriller. The removal of one character is provocative at first, but we soon find out that the person who is in charge of carrying Afflicted – as great of an actor as he is – has a bit of difficulty keeping the audience stimulated.
The film’s imagination is wild and open-minded, allowing the audience to cycle through many different theories about Derek’s case. Afflicted works best when the options for conclusions include moviegoers – like the doc within the movie. When details are explained more, the film’s creativity becomes dense and fuzzy.
Despite the underwhelming finish, Afflicted is a valiantly made intense thriller that delivers on scares and chills. Good luck walking into dark rooms after this one.