Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Afflicted Movie Review – Beware of Strange Women in Bars

Runtime: 85 minutes
Release Date: April 4, 2014 (US)
Rating: R
Director: Clif Prowse, Derek Lee

Clif and Derek are long time best friends. Clif always dreamed of being a filmmaker and often cast his friend in his short films. Derek eventually found a stable IT job and decided to settle down. When Derek learns that he's dying and only has a short period of time left, the two decide to take a year off and travel the world together. They start out in Paris, where they hang out with two of their friends who are in a band and make plans to meet back up one year later when the band returns.

While out at a bar, Derek meets a gorgeous woman named Audrey and brings her back to the hotel. The other guys decide to play a prank on him, but instead find Derek in bed by himself covered in scratches and bruises. He has no memory of what happened when they got back to the room or what happened to Audrey, but they do find her clothing, purse, and phone left behind.

After Derek and Clif leave for Italy, Derek begins exhibiting some weird behavior. He passes out in bed and has problems being in the light, and when they go out to lunch, he vomits all over the restaurant after trying to eat normal food. He also breaks out in intense hives and blisters when exposed to sunlight. When the two friends get into a fight, Derek punches straight through a solid rock wall.

While all this happens, Clif documents the drama and experiences on a website the two started about their trip. Friends and family warn Derek to come home and for Clif to get him to the hospital, but Derek eventually embraces his new found powers and strengths. When the two attempt to rob a blood bank and get Derek the only thing that makes him feel better, they find Interpool on their tails.

There is a lot about Afflicted that I'd like to write about but those moments feel like spoilers. The synopsis above really only covers the first half of the film if that. We then focus on Derek and his quest to find Audrey in the hopes of uncovering why she turned him and what he can do to cure himself. Through it all, we get an inside look at the action through the cameras the duo brought to document their trip.

Afflicted looked like an interesting movie and had a great trailer, but I don't know how I felt about it. It's kind of a vampire movie with a twist, but the twist has nothing to do with the vampires themselves; it just so happens to be a found footage film that focuses on vampires. There are some great scenes in the movie. One involves Derek trying to take his life with a shotgun blast to the head, while another involves him attempting to see how the sunlight will affect his skin.

One of the biggest debates online is about the Audrey and Derek relationship. She mentions that she never turned anyone before, and when he asks why she chose him, she tells him that he was already dying and that she felt pity for him. I'm on the side that believes she deliberately turned him because she felt sorry for him, but there's a large group of people who think she accidentally turned him.

Speaking of death, the film lets us know that Derek doesn't have long in the first few minutes, but it's completely easy to forget about that later on. I kept waiting for a scene where Derek would wonder if living life as some crazy vampire was better than dying, but that scene never came. You would think that he would bring it up at least once, but it never happens. He goes from barely having the ability to walk and act like a human to being a crazed madman trying to track down the person who infected him so fast that I kept wondering what flipped that switch in his mind.

The found footage genre, which is admittedly pretty bad at this point, actually works in this film. Clif spends most of his time behind the camera, but you get used to the sound of his voice and actually believe that he has a close relationship with Derek. The YouTube type site where they post their videos gets responses that seem pretty realistic. I'm not sure I would keep watching after my friend vomited bright orange sludge all across a restaurant, and it's a little funny to read posts from people that basically say, "get him to the hospital" or "that's not right."

Afflicted wasn't a terrible movie, but I wasn't as crazy about it as I thought. There was something about the film that just didn't do it for me, and I had problems paying attention. I'm sure many people will love it, but it wasn't one of my favorites.

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