Just when everyone’s ready to start hammering in the final nail in the found footage coffin, then comes along a great little indie movie like Afflicted proving that POV-style filmmaking really does still have a lot to offer. Co-writers and directors Clif Prowse and Derek Lee craft a truly disturbing and clever new spin on modern vampire lore, all while working within a modest budget.
Rather than letting their budgetary constraints hold back their story, Prowse and Lee let their stunning visuals and compelling story do all the heavy lifting, creating a horror tale that’s as scary as it is endearing.
Afflicted follows the characters of Derek (Lee) and Cliff (Prowse) as they embark on a year-long trip around the world after Derek is diagnosed with AVM, a neurological disease that could end his life at any moment. Things start off innocently enough for the two longtime pals as they arrive in Europe, but a random romantic encounter with a strange woman leaves Derek exhibiting signs of something far worse than his AVM affecting him.
I’ll be the first to admit that when a friend described Afflicted to me as a “found footage-style vampire movie,” I wasn’t feeling a whole lot of confidence about just how the movie would turn out. Thankfully, this ended up being one of those instances where I’m absolutely thrilled to have been proven wrong because Prowse and Lee crafted one hell of a debut horror film with Afflicted that surprised me by how effectively made it was as a whole.
One of my biggest grievances with found footage/POV-style filmmaking is that a lot of directors use it these days because it’s a cost effective way to make a movie or tell a story, not because they want to try anything new with the technology. Prowse and Lee do just the opposite- they embrace the advantages of smaller cameras and go for broke with some remarkable shots and sequences that impressively elevate the realism of their horrific tale. They take us up buildings and through showdowns with SWAT teams, always keeping us immersed in this world thereby selling the story that much more. For any indie filmmakers out there considering working in this format, Afflicted is required viewing and quite possibly the new standard on how to make POV-style filmmaking that not only enhances your story, but keeps your audience engaged as well.
The duo also somehow found a way to breathe new life into the vampire subgenre, which really hasn’t been scary for some time now. Instead of going to the more traditional route by giving us suave and sexy bloodsuckers, Prowse and Lee come up with a handful of clever twists on everything we know about vampires and then base their mythology in realism, giving Afflicted some tangible (and terrifying) stakes as Derek’s illness progresses further and further.
There are also a couple of great gore gags in the film that adds a nice savage feeling to the creatures, but Afflicted works best when it’s keeping things simple and that approach really compliments the creatures here- they’re scary because there’s no reasoning with their insatiable hunger and they must feed to live. Lee and Prowse give us no easy way out in Afflicted and my hat is tipped to finally giving us some gritty bloodsuckers to fear on the big screen one again.
A great example of low-budget, high ambition filmmaking done right, Afflicted is one of the more remarkable indie horror films I’ve seen in some time, using its technical savvy as a means to elevate an already stellar body horror tale that thoughtfully explores the themes of both mortality and morality. It may be a bit slow out of the gate, but once Afflicted kicks things into high gear, both Prowse and Lee do an admirable job of creating a memorable and haunting tale of isolation and fear that should satiate horror fans of any appetite. I can’t wait to see what’s next for both Lee and Prowse after Afflicted.
Movie Score: 4/5