I’m a day behind, (tickets to a MLB playoff game are hard to turn down!) so y’all get two posts today!
On the eighth day of Halloween, a French lady gave to me: Afflicted (Derek Lee, Clif Prowse, 2013)
Today’s entry is the found-footage film Afflicted, which purports to document the exploits of two friends on a trip abroad. A brief synopsis:
Best friends since childhood, Derek Lee and Clif Prowse go on a yearlong whirlwind trip around the world. Derek- who has a possibly terminal brain condition- sees this as what might be his last chance to really see the world. The duo make their way through Europe’s hot spots, Clif trying to make the experience as fun as he can for Derek. Determined to get Derek some action, Clif goads him into trying to find a woman in Paris. I mean, it’s the most romantic city in the world, right?
Well, Clif finds Derek romance-d nearly to death: Audrey, Derek’s lover for the night, has left him out cold and covered in wounds. Clif and Derek try to recover the spirit of their adventure, but Derek begins to act strangely, unable to eat and allergic to sunlight. As Derek and Clif begin to realize that something has gone truly wrong, they struggle to deal with the consequences.
PARKOUR…for the heart
Afflicted marries the Blair Witch Project’s format and style with some of An American Werewolf in London’s themes- except with vampires. The premise of the “movie” is realistic enough: two dudes on an adventure make a travel vlog. Through the use of GoPros and traditional cameras, Clif and Derek manage to capture every moment of what’s happening to them.
The first two thirds of Afflicted are its strongest, as it stays mostly in the realm of the realistic, if you will. It keeps you thinking, “what if this happened to my best friend?” I wanted to laugh at some points: Clif and Derek discover Derek’s super strength, and immediately go test its limits. It’ a totally juvenile thing to do in such a worrying situation, but honestly if I discovered that I could punch through rock with ease, would I be any less jazzed? Let’s be honest here, I’d be trying to bust up anything I could get my hands on. Of course, Derek’s regaining of vitality and strength is more poignant when you consider his position: Clif is scared, but Derek sees a glimmer of something else. Well, for a little while anyway.
It’s easy to sit back and laugh at horror movie characters, who often make decidedly poor choices (“A house where multiple people have died gruesome deaths in? Party time!) but this isn’t necessarily the case in Afflicted. Clif and Derek are brothers, and would do anything for each other. While “dealing with vampirism” wasn’t necessarily on the list of things they were prepared to do for each other, Clif is determined to help his friend. Afflicted looks you straight in the eye and asks you: How far would you go for a friend?
And maybe I’m a sap, but that’s what I think the heart of this movie is. Clif is horrified at what’s happening to his best friend, but refuses to let him go through it alone, no matter how dark or illegal it gets. And of course, the other side of the coin is watching Derek struggle desperately to maintain his humanity, but being physically unable to stop himself from hurting others. He is a man who once wanted to nothing more than live, and now he just wants a way to die. The notion of vampirism as a gift or a curse is embedded into the subtext of Afflicted , but only really brought out in the weaker third act.
….I mean, there’s also a bunch of blood and some great vamp-y FX, so don’t worry about gettin’ your thrills in. It’s definitely still a horror movie, with some action-y fight scenes thrown in there for shits n’ giggles.
The third act of Afflicted is far more action movie-y, with lots of GoPro’d parkour, and is in my opinion the weakest part of this film. I think the directors could have hammered home a few of the themes they were building on, but they instead go for some dramatic fisticuffs.The ending was also a little cheesy for my taste, but it didn’t sour the movie as a whole by any means. At any rate, the first two thirds of Afflicted are great, and the third act is just a little less-great. It’s a solid movie with a fresh concept that’s executed well, so I’d definitely give it a shot.
Featured image source: https://themindreels.com/2014/04/04/afflicted-2013-derek-lee-cliff-prowse/