Friday, August 29, 2014

Afflicted review

    I hesitate to reveal anything about this movie because one of the major surprises of the story is one I didn't figure out from the trailer. Thus, before I continue this review, I'm going to say the movie has a lot going for it. You should see it if you like horror movies which are still serious but light enough to be enjoyed with your non-horror friends. It's not an instant classic but it does what all horror films should: it's scary, you care about the characters, and the movie kept me entertained the entire way through.

    So, yeah, recommended.

    The rest of my review will deal with a spoiler. If you don't want the reveal spoiled, then I suggest you don't read further.

    Still here?

    Okay, good.

    It's a vampire movie.

    The fact it was able to keep this element secret is something which is a credit to the developers. I watched this movie on the basis of its strong trailer and was surprised to find out it's about a guy who is transformed into a vampire and his dealing with the consequences. It's probably the straightest, most un-ironic, non-metaphorical treatment of vampirism I've seen in years.

He's fine! He just needs blood.
    The movie is a "found footage" film in the manner of the Blair Witch Project. Bluntly, I didn't think this worked as well for the film as it could have. The question of who would be editing all of this together is never answered and a lot of events are things our characters would never reasonably film. Despite this, the camera work is good enough to feel "authentic" in a way which a more staged depiction wouldn't.

    Best friends Clif and Derek decide to go on a European vacation for the last probable year of the latter's life. Derek is dying of an inoperable brain condition and wants to go out with a bang. After an encounter with a French girl his friends interrupt because they're colossal jerks (seriously, who would do that? Even if their friend wasn't dying), they find Derek has developed a sudden allergy to sunlight and no longer can digest food.

Never trust French girls into the geeky guys. They're vampires. All of them.
    This is the audience's first clue that something weird is going on but things get weirder as Derek starts to develop superpowers. These include the ability run ninety miles-an-hour, smash through solid stone, and climb walls like Spiderman. Gradually, they figure out Derek has become a vampire about the time a person in real-life would deduce that was the only "sensible" explanation. The authenticity of this and the friendship of the two as they struggle to figure out how to feed their friend is the best part of the movie.

    It's a very rare film whose emotional heart rests on the friendship between two straight dudes and their willingness to die for one another. The fact Clif disappears from the film in the final act is a disappointment and lowers the enjoyment factor significantly. Still, by this time, I was invested enough in the plot to see it through.

Documenting a friend dealing with vampirism would have made the movie better but it's pretty good now.
    It's a rare film I can say is a "realistic" take on vampires but this feels about as close as you can come in our post-modern world. Getting blood is hard, you'd do it only after exhausting all other options, and suicide would be contemplated the moment bodies start to drop.

    In conclusion, I recommend this film. It's got some flaws but they're small in comparison to the overall serious treatment of vampirism, likable main characters, and the fact things go in unexpected directions.


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