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Marina Antunes [Celluloid 04.04.14] Canada horror

The found footage style movie has been well abused in the last decade but as with any style or genre of filmmaking, it's not without high points. The Blair Witch project still stands as the juggernaugt, followed a close second by Cloverfield and some might argue Chronicle (though the only thing I really love about that movie is the concept and the fact that it marked the arrival of the very talented Dane DeHaan) and now we can add a third (or fourth, depending on where you fall) title to the list of stand out titles: Afflicted.

Written, directed and starring the duo of Derek Lee and Clif Prowse, Afflicted begins as a travelogue of two friends taking a yearlong trip around the world and documenting it for their friends and family at home. The trip kicks off in Spain where the pair meet up with a pair of friends who happen to be wrapping up their European tour and for a few days they have a great time doing all sorts of typical tourist and "extreme" vacation type adventures. Things are going well until Derek meets a woman at a Paris bar and takes her back to the hotel. In the midst of a bad prank, his friends eventually find Derek knocked out and with a chunk of flesh missing from his arm. At first it's just a weird thing that happened on the trip but when Derek starts acting strangely, it's clear that the evening with the mysterious woman has made this trip far more interesting than either friend bargained for.

The best thing I did in preparation for Afflicted was to avoid the trailer. Watching it this morning I was surprised at how many key elements of the story are revealed and though there's still a lot to enjoy if you did catch the trailer, the movie is far more interesting if you don't know the details of what's coming. And trust me, it's rather unexpected even if the first moment Derek realizes something is wrong, a well attuned audience will know exactly what's happening (it's also one of the reasons the "internet providing answers" gag works so well). And if you have any concerns about directors also playing the central characters, you have nothing to worry about. Lee has been appearing in the pair's short films for some time and he easily carries the bulk of the work though to be honest, Afflicted works particularly well because the real life camaraderie and friendship between Lee and Prowse comes through immediately.

I've been toting the talents of cinematographer Norm Lee around these parts for years and he continues to impress with varying styles and approaches to the projects he works on, all of which are wildly different in style and tone. Here he cracks his found footage knuckles and delivers a movie that while being decidedly found footage, doesn't look like it was shot by a couple of teenagers with a camera. There's a nice polish and kinetic feel to the footage which immediately elevates it above most of the other low budget entries into the category.

Afflicted is fantasitc. Not only a spectacular document of what can be achieved with perseverance and a measly $300,000 but a movie that breathes new life into a genre that has, of late, been particularly bruised and abused. Toting some spectacular effects, a great concept and a rather brilliant execution, Afflicted more than lives up to the well deserved acclaim it has been receiving since it premiered at TIFF's Midnight Madness last year. Considering what Lee and Prowse managed to pull off with a shoestring budget and a big idea, I can't wait to see what they have in store for a follow-up.

Afflicted opens today across Canada and the US where it is also available on VOD.

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wtf (8 years ago) Reply

nice movie with pretty predictable story.


Wumpus (5 years ago) Reply

This made it to Prime this month. It's well made, but can't avoid the "Why are you still filming?" distractions that *afflict* all FF movies.

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