Arts

Found Footage Thriller that Finally Gets it Right

“Afflicted” Pleases While Mixing Different Genres

By Robert LaRosa

As a fan of found footage films and an even bigger fan of horror movies, I was more than pleased with 2011s “V/H/S” and it’s sequel “S-V/H/S.” However, the third installment fell flat and so have the last dozen “Paranormal Activity” films.

Horror and found footage seemed to be a beautiful marriage after the explosion of 1999s “Blair Witch Project” but, sixteen years later, the genre feels stale.

Every film follows the same formula and you can only recycle the same film so many times before people stop watching.

That’s not the case with “Afflicted.” It’s a low-budget Canadian horror film that kept my eyes glued to the screen–simple story telling done right.

The film follows a pair of friends, Derek and Cliff, who decide to take the journey of a lifetime after Derek has an aneurysm and could possibly die at any given moment. As they travel around Europe, Derek becomes sick with something vampiric and sinister and the two race against time to find a cure in a foreign land.

The film shows the two characters operating a podcast as they document their journey around Europe.

This was an interesting take on the film because the families of the two characters can see what is uploaded to the podcast. The tension obviously rises as the film progresses, but takes a few unexpected turns.

As a horror fan, trying to figure out where the film was going was difficult since it continually changed directions. The film starts off as a drama with some laughing moments, then turns into a thriller, a monster movie, an action film, then ends with horror.

With so many twists and turns, the film does a steady job of telling the story.

The story is told with lifelike effects, which is unusual for such a low budget film. Along with great special effects comes believable acting, thrilling story telling and an ending that finally makes sense.

Although the ending is cliché by leaving it open for a number of sequels, it takes a different turn for our main characters, something that should leave the viewers very pleased.

As a POV film, it differs from “Paranormal Activity” for example: In the heat of the action scenes the camera is always on and somebody is always in complete control.

Series like “Paranormal Activity” usually don’t show the audience what is happening in intense sequences to leave it up to our imaginations.

The film deals with survival, change, self-acceptance, morality, and of course, death. The main characters deal with each of these as the film shows the struggle to change while accepting this new way of life they have been dealt. The film leaves you wanting to see what will happen next since it is so open-ended.

“Afflicted” breathes new life into a genre that is considered to be dying off with the endless stream of sequels and remakes.

While maybe it is not the most original idea, it does speak to the YouTube generation where people upload their daily lives for friends and others to see. Taking that idea and putting a horror/action spin on it is perfect.

As of now, no sequel is planned for the film but with the success it has had in Canadian film festivals, don’t be surprised to see one in the near future.

With more underground films giving found footage films more life, it is going to be interesting to see how companies try to capture their magic on a larger budget, larger scale and larger audience.

What really makes this movie work is the lack of a soundtrack because it gives a realistic vibe.

Found footage movies with soundtracks such as “The Last Exorcism” and “V/H/S: Viral” don’t work as well as films that don’t use soundtracks. This film gets as realistic as realistic can possibly get, considering its vampiric elements.

Speaking of the vampire culture in films, this movie does great justice to the horror genre considering what the “Twilight” series did to the image of vampires.

Fans of the classic monsters will be pleased to how they are portrayed in the film as well as seeing a found footage vampire film.

With more underground horror films getting positive reviews with their audience, it’s safe to say that this genre is saved by clever storytelling, realistic editing, believable horror, and honest acting.

I highly recommend this film to fans of horror, action and dramas to watch the film that I believe saved the found footage genre from fading out at the theaters.

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