(The gist: Afflicted is a different take and a different style on a very mainstream premise. And it worked extremely well. The plot isawesome; the acting and makeup are quality. I have zero complaints and am glad I randomly selected it from Redbox.)
Another mockumentary! Seriously, do they even make horror movies of any other style anymore? At this point, horror mockumentaries need their own subgenre (mostly so I know what I'm getting into). As the opening scene of Afflicted unrolled and I realized I had committed myself to yet another shaky first person perspective, I caught myself rolling my eyes.
However, Afflicted very pleasantly surprised me.
Afflicted is about Derek and Cliff, two friends who embark on a year-long trip around the world after Derek discovers he has AVM. The trip quickly goes off the rails when Derek hooks up with a woman in Paris and is found bloodied in his hotel room. After the encounter, he is forever changed, and the plot ramps up.
Horror mockumentaries are hit and miss for me. Some are expertly done, and the filming style is perfect for and enhances the story. Others, unfortunately, are just disorienting and annoying. In this case, I liked the mockumentary style. It was a little more "produced" than other mockumentaries are. So instead of just a blur of shaky camera scenes, there is some soundtrack; there are multiple perspectives. It works, and it works for the plot. It manages to capture the first person point of view without being overly disorientating, like so many of this style can be.
I loved the plot. The pace is perfect. The characters are introduced and developed. By the time Derek gets gnawed on, I sympathized with his need to see everything before he might die and cared about what was happening to him. Then once he is afflicted, things progress appropriately to keep the audience intrigued and wondering but revealed before it gets frustrating or boring. I found myself compelled by my curiosity and enjoying every minute of it.
The film really explored the upheaval and anguish of the turn for an afflicted person. More intimately than any other vampire movie I can recall seeing. Afflicted is a very alternative angle on a much exploited supernatural horror premise. Many vampire movies show the conflict, the torture between feeding on humans while remembering being one (think Louis in Interview with a Vampire), but none dedicate an entire film to just that process.
Usually, the actual turning is accomplished in many one scene. Afflicted is the whole turning process. It includes the slow build of confusion and doubt, the surprise of the first unintended kill, the blind desperation. It is all fascinating.
The film is Derek’s whole journey from affliction to ending (no full spoilers!), and I loved it. There was even a good twist among the end credits. I appreciated the alternative take on a popular and mainstream idea; I enjoyed the alternative filming style of it.
Beyond the broad strokes, I liked the details too. I was impressed by the acting in that it was transparent. I was duped enough that I could have believed I was simply watching a couple guys document their travel misadventures. Maybe I have been watching a bit too much Face/Off on SyFy, but the makeup was quite impressive. When Derek vamps out, it is terrifying. When he gets burned by the sun, it made me cringe. It was convincing.
Afflicted is not the best horror movie or vampire movie I have ever seen. However, it was both good enough and different enough to definitely catch my attention in the right ways.