Afflicted (2013): Vampire Blair Witch Project But Better

Note: Kind of spoilers ahead. 

It sounds bad, I know. Low budget film about vampires in the format of a camera filming and with no famous directors or actors to give it cushioning. It was a literal recipe for disaster.

Granted, it does have those leafy award things at the top, but, in my experience, those tend to be movies I don’t like.

But, doing the prior-to-movie routine that involves very useful apps like Flixster and IMDb, I quickly changed my mind. On Rotten Tomatoes, this movie was given a 79% by the critics and a 65% by the audience, both ratings considered “fresh.”

It wasn’t the ratings that changed my mind. I often disagree with the ratings, so I usually don’t keep it in mind when I watch the movie.

I changed my mind when my dad suggested I watch the trailer.

The trailer is awesome. I’ve seen a lot of trailers in my relatively short life. This one definitely hooked me, something most trailers on movies that weren’t books I’ve read usually don’t achieve. (Okay, that new Transformers movie trailer kind of made me want to watch it, but that’s just because there was a dinosaur in it. That’s different.)

Afflicted did not disappoint. It seemed very typical, almost cliche, at first; these two friends, Derek and Clif, are going on a year-long trip around the world and they plan to film all of it and keep this video blog. Good basis, a little bit very typical of a movie in camera filming format, and there’s room to grow, but good basis. It is also revealed that Derek is suffering from a brain AVM, arteriovenous malformation, which is basically this abnormal clump of arteries in your brain.

This part of Derek is constantly brought up and is a very good plot point, because it accounted for all their actions. Derek is so eager to go on this trip because he could die very soon. He doesn’t want to go to the hospital because if they find something wrong, he’ll be sent home, or worse, stuck in Europe because he’s too sick. It made their actions make sense, which is often lacking in many horror movies unfortunately.

Aside from the fact that this actually made some sense, Afflicted traced the degeneration of Derek’s “condition” very well, each scene transitioning through a simple “Day 14” to “Day 16.” It was easy to follow and the make-up was good enough for a wonderful creep factor.

Speaking of creep factor, I am very pleased with the creep factor. Many of the “horror” feels were actually not jump scares or extreme shaky-cam that tries to give its viewers motion sickness. In fact, most of the “scary” parts were actually reliable on the mystery of it, the I’m-not-sure-what’s-going-on-or-what’s-going-to-happen part.

Overall, Afflicted carried a relatively strong plot. However, it lacked character. It had a lot of character as a movie, but not so much for the actual characters of the movie.

What I mean is that there was enough present to keep them going, but these are not completely developed characters that I could analyze and write a paper about.

However, this is not the type of movie to have characters to analyze. If I really wanted to analyze characters to write a paper, I would go watch those movies with a million leafy award things on the cover.

But I don’t. I watch movies for the sake of enjoyment. And I rate movies differently on the types of movies they are. If I did happen to watch and write a review for a movie with a million leafy award things, I would talk about things like how the clutching of the black umbrella symbolizes their reluctance to let go of grief, or how the small changes in the mother actually reflected the protagonist’s whatever and I would sound formal and sophisticated and like a paper I would turn in to my English teacher.

Afflicted is not a moving drama with a million leafy awards. It’s a horror-thriller vampire movie. So just the fact that the characters are sufficient enough to make sense to the plot and not distract the viewers too much with stupidity (like some horror films) is good enough for the movie because the point is not about the characters at this point. The point is to make a horror-thriller vampire movie. Which directors Derek Lee and Clif Prowse did an excellent job of.

The protagonists didn’t have much of a unique spin to their characters, at least personality-wise; two young people traveling the world to live an exciting life before Derek dies of his brain AVM. Nothing very special. But this movie doesn’t require deep characterization. It only needs Derek’s determination to keep this trip going and Clif’s worries about his friend to fit the plot. Which Afflicted kept to.

And a note to whoever hasn’t watched it but is going to: the end credits scene is pretty good. Actually, I really liked it.

Conclusion: Although seemingly skeptical with its footage-film concept and bad movies linked to this genre, Afflicted surprises with a fleshed-out plot, though slightly typical of movies of this type, that keeps the audience interested until the end and doesn’t induce fits of “Wow, why are these people so stupid?” that often comes up in low-budget horror films and also has much more interesting vampires than Twilight. Bonus points for the trailer. 6.5/10.

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