Graphic Horror: Afflicted
Graphic Horror: Afflicted 2014
Even though my blogathon is over, I like the tag “Graphic Horror” enough that I’ll be keeping it and using it right alongside “Almost Super” for horror movies that aren’t quite superhero movies, even if they are based on graphic novels and therefore included in my big list of superhero and comic book movies. When I saw the trailer and early promotional tweets about this movie I was very interested. It was a found footage movie very similar in style to Chronicle only with a horror twist to it, where these two friends go on a world trip and one of them catches something that starts to make him sick, but then gives him superpowers before taking a much darker turn. There was another element to the story that the PR wanted to keep a secret, but I didn’t go digging into what it was until they decided it wasn’t that big of a secret to keep once it hit its wide release and I found out that the superpowers were brought on because he is becoming a vampire. This actually made me a little bit more interested in the movie because I’m always a fan of vampire movies and I thought this would do for vampire movies that Chronicle did for superhero movies and I think I was right.
The movie starts out simply enough as most horror films do with two friends going on a trip. Of course, since this is a found footage movie, one of them wants to be a documentarian while the other has a cluster of blood vessels that’s basically a brain aneurism just waiting to happen so of course they want to document the entire year-long trip around the world. They don’t get too far into it before Derek, the one with the brain thing, hooks up with a girl in Paris, only to be found messed up in their hotel room, but he claims he is fine and doesn’t want to go to the hospital because he thinks if they find anything then it will end their trip. From there on in, he starts changing and the film starts changing along with it. It starts with Clif, the filmmaker, worrying about him and what’s going on, then it switches to wonder as he starts showing signs of the superhuman abilities of a vampire, before devolving into horror as the thirst begins to take control, and finally turning into an action/mystery as Derek tracks down the woman who gave him the curse in the first place.
One thing that immediately drew me into the film is the obvious camaraderie between the two leads who are also longtime friends in real life as proven by some of the footage of them in homemade films as teenagers. They are both quite likeable and adept at handling some of the more serious moments when they are dealing with the seriousness of what is actually happening to Derek. There’s also plenty of great use of the handheld cameras, especially the vest which allows them to strap a camera to their chest which provides some amazing POV shots later in the movie when Derek is demonstrating his newfound abilities like jumping two stories into the air. There is some stretching of the common question that happens with many found footage movies: “Why are they filming this?”, but when it gets to that point, I’m more interested in what’s happening to care. There’s also a great transition within the changing style of shots as the movie progresses. The beginning starts out like it’s a polished and fully edited version of the opening to Clif’s documentary. But as things go on, the shots get rougher, and it obviously gets darker as they spend less time in the daylight, and the edits become rougher.
There’s also some really amazing effects, makeup, and stunt work at hand here, the scar at the center of the poster image comes about after Derek’s first kill. Distraught about what he’s done, he tries to take his own life with a shotgun blast through his head. The vampiric look itself is also quite interesting. It’s not the more modern style of sexy vampires, though when he is well fed he does look completely normal, but when he starts getting too thirsty, he skin grows a motely pale, his eyes change, and his posture and manner of movement changes as well. It has definite inspiration from the classic Nosferatu, though the behavior is much more animal-like and instinctual, and Derek really helps to sell this stage of the process. On top of that the stuntwork for much of the vampire superheroic action look great, especially during the POV moments.
I initially watched this movie to review because of the superhero subtext in the trailer and the Chronicle connection that was heavily used in the Twitter marketing campaign and there was a few moments of that, especially at the end where he becomes something of an anti-hero like a vampiric Punisher which would be a really interesting direction to go if they ever happen to do a sequel to this movie. But aside from that, there isn’t much to go on, it’s much more of a vampire action/horror movie with a found footage and mystery angle to it. But I enjoyed it so much I just had to write about it, and something I always like doing on this site is giving attention to smaller independent movies that take a new look at an old genre which this movie absolutely did. Until next time, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.