Afflicted Review

Posted: April 6, 2014 in Horror, Reviews
Tags: , , , , , ,

Derek_Lee_Afflicted_2-570x294Voluntary restraint has failed. A name-and-shame approach in the media has not been a deterrent. Local and state authorities seem unwilling or unable to address this crisis. The federal government, as usual, is nowhere to be found. A United Nations convention may be the last, best hope to rid society of this terrible scourge.

The found footage horror movie must be stopped.

How many more times must audiences suffer through ninety-minute close-ups of a snotty-nosed twenty-something hyperventilating into a video camera while the Evil One occasionally lurches into the frame from the side? How is it that supernatural forces always ensure that a dropped camera lands in perfect filming position? What unholy entity guarantees that the batteries never run out? Who thinks it’s plausible that someone would say, “The greatest tribute I can offer to those I have eaten is to keep the camera rolling?”

The latest victim of this overplayed gimmick is Afflicted, a potentially fine film that is ruined by the comically clichéd shaky cam, best buddies documenting their great adventure, anybody-can-make-a-video-and-post-it-to-a-web-site style of cinema. The plot of the next Terminator movie should have Arnold going back and strangling those responsible for The Blair Witch Project in their cribs. (We’ll give those who brought us Cannibal Holocaust a pass as the conceit works in that movie and should never have been employed again.)

In Afflicted, Derek Lee and Clif Prowse direct Derek Lee and Clif Prowse in a script by Derek Lee and Clif Prowse that has characters named Derek Lee and Clif Prowse setting out for a trip around the world. No, they do not head immediately for DerekLeeburg or ClifProwseville, but instead opt for Europe. Clearly, they have not done the necessary research for such a trip, including a viewing of Eli Roth’s Hostel movies, or they would know that bad things happen when Americans try to bed the locals in the Old Country.

It’s Derek Lee that makes that mistake when he picks up Audrey (Baya Rehaz) in a Paris club. Clif Prowse and two friends who are part of the worst band ever to land a gig decide to head back to the hotel to employ the Turkish Cock Block, which translates into them busting in on their buddy in flagrante delicto. They get an eyeful of bodily fluids all right, but it’s Derek Lee’s blood from a head wound and what appears to be a bite on his upper arm where Audrey apparently employed the French Cock Block.

Soon enough, Derek Lee is scaling walls, outrunning motorcycles, and running down greased pigs, when he’s not throwing up in restaurants or catching on fire in the sunlight. And Clif Prowse? Basically, he’s channeling Ross from Friends in the never aired episode in which Chandler Bing turns into a vampire. (“Could I be any more bloodthirsty?”)

There are some effective moments when Derek Lee is discovering his new abilities, and a stunning sequence when he attempts suicide by swallowing a shotgun blast, but the limitations of the found footage format and the laborious effort employed here to justify it undercut the action. Baya Rehaz as the leggy vampiress is a visual treat, but we hardly get an eyeful with the camera bouncing around. Her brief appearances are a highlight, and there are a couple of nice twists at the end regarding the nature of the affliction.

Venereal horror like Afflicted or the under-appreciated Contracted, in which a young woman becomes a zombie from a sexually transmitted disease, plays on our most basic fears. The latter movie eschewed the found footage structure and told its story in the traditional manner. The creatives forces behind Afflicted (Derek Lee and Clif Prowse for those who have not been paying attention) had at least as many resources available to make something memorable, but fall just short.

Two stars.

 

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