Back in 1999, the found footage craze began with a whimper in the form of “The Blair Witch Project,” and since then it has become something of a plague on cinema with everyone trying to get in on the formula of making cheap films of a similar nature in the hopes of striking it rich. That’s not to say that we haven’t gotten a couple of decent found footage films along the way, including “Cloverfield” and “Chronicle,” but for every decent one, we’ve wound up with a multitude of dreadfully awful entries such as multiple “Paranormal Activity” films, “The Last Exorcism,” and a pair of “V/H/S” flicks.
Now filmmakers Clif Prowse and Derek Lee try their hand at the genre with their film “Afflicted,” which tells the story of two friends, Clif and Derek (playing themselves), going on a trip around the world for a year. They’ve decided to document the entire thing, placing their footage on a blog so that everyone can follow along on their adventure. During a night in Paris, Derek has an encounter with a woman, Audrey (Baya Rehaz), which leaves him injured. Over the next few days, he finds himself feeling very groggy and unable to keep any food down, leaving Clif feeling very concerned, especially since Derek has a life-threatening neural condition. As Derek’s sickness continues, he discovers that he has gained incredible powers, including strength and speed. However, he also finds himself with a sudden urge to feed on human blood, which leads to a horrifying experience for both of them.
“Afflicted” is pretty much your standard found footage horror film with the characters going through a frightening experience and documenting the journey along the way. This one just happens to be about a man becoming a vampire. There’s not really much more to it than that, leading to a film that becomes one note pretty quickly. It’s got the usual cheap scares and shaky camera action that you would expect from a film like this, but in terms of bringing anything new to the table, “Afflicted” simply doesn’t have very much to offer. The plot is very light in the first place, a fact that Prowse and Lee try to cover up with some decent special effects (jumping long distances, throwing people across a room, etc.), but after a while it becomes very obvious that that was the main reason that they made the film in the first place, as a showcase for these special effects. “Afflicted” may be slightly more entertaining than most others films of the same type, but it’s still unable to hide the fact that it’s just as empty as most of them as well.
“Afflicted” comes to Blu-ray in a 1.85:1, 1080p High Definition transfer that varies in quality, but that’s to be expected of a found footage film where it’s meant to look like it’s of somewhat lesser quality, and that’s not even mentioning the numerous number of times the camera is shaken all over the place, making it hard to see much of anything. However, given that that’s the effect they’re going for, you just have to roll with it. The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio is rather quiet, which could be a part of the effect as well, but either way, all that’s needed is a slight volume adjustment. Overall, there is nothing major that interferes with the overall enjoyment of the presentation.
Behind the Scenes of Afflicted: A very brief and superficial interview with the directors/writers of the film that doesn’t tell you very much about it. Easily skippable.
Anatomy of a Scene: The Window Jump: A two-minute featurette that shows you how the window jump was done, as if the audience didn’t already know. This is another one that’s easily skippable.
Deleted Scenes: Eight minutes of deleted/alternate scenes that don’t add anything to the film, so they’re not particularly worth watching.
“Afflicted” is nothing more than just another found footage horror film put together by two guys hoping to make a few easy bucks. There’s nothing here that we haven’t already seen in the multitudes of other similar films in the genre, making this a rather uninspired retread. The special effects are well done, but that’s pretty much all that the film has going for it, leaving behind more important elements like story and characters. The found footage craze had its moment in the sun, but apparently somebody forgot to tell Prowse and Lee that it passed a long time ago.
Available on Blu-ray and DVD starting tomorrow.
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