To be honest, I’ve grown exasperated with the whole found footage sub-genre. Don’t get me wrong, there are entries I really dig like The Blair Witch Project, the [Rec] and V/H/S series, as well as a couple from the Paranormal Activity franchise (1 and 3). But like any trend, there’s a point where it gets oversaturated and found footage has definitely passed that point. Writer/Director duo Derek Lee and Clif Prowse are latest to hit the genre’s current fad with their feature debut, Afflicted.
The story is about two best friends that go on a life-changing trip around the world only to find it take an unexpected, dark turn that finds one of them afflicted with a mysterious disease. Thus begins a venture to seek the source of the curse. Lee and Prowse are not only the creative force behind Afflicted but they are the leads as well. Their acting gets the job done…well, until things get serious. Lee and Prowse falter whenever they’re required to reveal the limitations of their chops in the drama department.
There are aspects here that remind me of Chronicle and the V/H/S entry, Amateur Night but to their credit Lee and Prowse give us a neat enough spin on vampires to set it apart from the pack. Like most found footage films, they hit a snag whenever they have to explain why the camera is still rolling especially in the film’s second half. There are moments where a character groaningly tries to justify his reasons to continue on filming. This is especially true following a pivotal moment in which Afflicted shifts direction. It’s during that key spin of events where the film begins to run out of tracks. The plot is just not strong enough to sustain as a feature. The script is lightweight and doesn’t really take us anywhere new.
Hands down, Afflicted’s strongest attribute is its well-devised action set-pieces and FX work. The chase sequences are very creative. There are many bits where you’ll be scratching your head, wondering how a particular shot was executed. The film wowed me with its high-level craftsmanship. It’s the main reason why you’d see Afflicted.
I really wanted to enjoy this film especially since it’s a Canadian genre picture and being a Canadian, I want to support my own. Aside from being undeniably impressive on the technical side, I just found myself disinterested through most of Afflicted…and it only runs 85 minutes long. There’s not enough material here to justify its running time. I think Afflicted would have made a solid 20 minute short. At its conclusion (hardly one to begin with), the filmmakers even attempt to leave the doors open for a potential sequel which is ironic since it doesn’t really hold together on its own.