Written and Directed by Derek Lee and Clif Prowse
Two best friends, Derek and Clif, decide to embark on an “end of the world” tour around the globe, blogging about their adventures in the different countries they visit and encouraging their friends to set them challenges as they do. For one of them, Derek, it’s likely his only chance to see the world outside of the US after having been diagnosed with a rare and dangerous brain disorder that could kill him at any time. Despite his family’s worries, he sets off to Barcelona with best mate Clif as they create memories to last a lifetime.
After meeting up with old musician friends in Paris, Derek manages to pull a local chick at a bar they’re playing at but he bites off more than he can chew, or rather she does, when she attacks him and flees his apartment. With facial cuts and a puncture wound in his arm, Derek is injured but fine until he starts becoming sick on his trip. From violently throwing up to his skin bursting out in boils, it becomes clear that Derek isn’t well but this is only the start as he finds himself changing and becoming a threat to Clif and those around him…
Shot like a found footage film but playing out as something slightly different, AFFLICTED is a mockumentary horror where the two stars of the film are actually the real-life writers/directors as well. This gives the friendship dynamic of the movie an extra element of realism as we fully invest in the characters from the offset and their once-in-a-lifetime trip around the globe.
Much like Hostel, which also deals with a group of American friends jetsetting to Europe, AFFLICTED builds up slowly, first presenting itself with roadtrip-like journals before things start to change, both with Derek and his relationship with Clif. With Clif doing most of the recording, we get to hear his concerns for his friend as the film progresses, as well as his pieces to camera as he vlogs about his worries about Derek. All of this put together creates a strong narrative even if there’s the odd scene in the movie that feels a little far-fetched – the ones that come to mind being the hospital and ambulance scenes which you’d imagine the police would be investigating a lot quicker than what we see in the film.
Although it feels like a low budget horror, AFFLICTED is much more polished with outstanding use of visual FX, evoking a Chronicle feel as Derek begins to discover his developing abilities. From sitting poised in the corner of the ceiling like a spider in its web ready to catch its prey, to jumping up multiple stories of a building from ground level, it’s safe to say that Derek’s undergoing a transformation of supernatural proportions but where will it stop and what will happen to him as a result of these newfound abilities?
With found footage movies usually ‘recorded’ by the prey being hunted, this approach of basically documenting one man’s transformation, like a diary, is quite a refreshing take on both the found footage and creature genres that you don’t get to witness that often. I think the way it’s been filmed, with the personal touches that the style of filmmaking accommodates, really draws the viewer into their story, as though you’re on the end of the world tour with them, privy to the horrors that await. Even though the personal diaries seem to slip into a more theatrical take towards the end of the movie, it still manages to keep the energy right to the conclusion.