Just as Guillermo Del Toro’s The Strain is hitting UK TV screens (and very successfully so far), it is somewhat ironic that a film like Afflicted has arrived on DVD. Because here is a Canadian film that, and it is not too much of a spoiler to say, takes the vampire film squarely back to its roots, seeing vampirism as a disease- much as it was in F.W. Murnau’s 1922 landmark Nosferatu. In other words, to all you people tired of seeing vampires as copulating teenagers with emotional issues (thanks Twilight), then Afflicted is most certainly the film for you. Don’t be put off by the ghastly DVD Cover art- which makes it look like any old shelf filling Horror- this is a bloody brilliant found footage flick.
While certainly not averse to cliché, especially in the slow building opening third, the film gradually develops into an interesting, ferocious and action-packed picture. Debuting (for feature films that is) directors Derek Lee and Clif Prowse, who also write and star (as alternate versions of themselves), have instilled their film with two likable lead characters and lure the audience into a story that eventually comes to question the worth of life under limitations. The title comes to have a double meaning, as Derek is essentially afflicted before that fateful night in Paris and when the plot starts to increase the action, the quality of the camerawork comes into full life. To say this is a low budget offering, the camera is crisp and innovatively used in sequences reminiscent of Chronicle and Rec 2.
Perhaps this is a film that is more of an enticing and enjoyable experience than it is a scary one but there are still fearful jolts to be had. The use of excellent effects and make-up are authentic and gruesome, reminding in some ways of David Cronenberg’s The Fly. Prowse and Lee could certainly teach a great number of fillmakers out there, how to effectively use the budget and thankfully that is not at the expense of the plot or the characters. The film also has the intellect to realise that some of its more audacious moments cannot simply take place in the real world without being noticed, which is an important aspect as the plot gets wilder and takes on elements of a chase Thriller.
Afflicted is a violent and feverishly enjoyable work that really deserves to grab the attention of the right audience out there. The closing moments of the film reveal a possible opening to a sequel and it has to be said, that would not be an unwelcome prospect on this evidence. In an age where mainstream Horror is in a bit of a state of crisis, here is another film that shows that Horror is still alive and well and actually thriving in the catacombs of the independent film market. Do yourself a favour and seek this out because Afflicted is terrific.