Afflicted Derek Lee & Clif Prowse

Afflicted Derek Lee & Clif Prowse
Two things the entertainment world doesn't need more of right now are vampires and found-footage films. Kudos are due to co-directors, writers and stars Derek Lee and Clif Prowse for making a movie dependent upon both overused devices that doesn't outright suck.

Afflicted isn't afraid of a little (or a great deal of) regurgitation though, literally — our confused, fledgling vamp vomits a lot — and figuratively, with Supernatural airing an episode very similar to this last season. That's not necessarily a cry of copycat, but rather just evidence that a faux-reality vampirism infection story is an extremely obvious idea.

To give that basic premise legs to carry the runtime of a feature film, Afflicted sets itself up as the travelogue of two best friends. When Derek Lee finds out he has a cluster of tangled blood vessels in his brain, putting him at increased risk of an aneurism, he and aspiring filmmaker Clif Prouse decide to take a trip around the world in case the inevitable knocks on Derek's door a little early.

Family concerns are expressed via Derek's brother, but the duo are determined to Carpe some serious Diem. It's very much a bro-mantic Joe Versus the Volcano to start out. Everything they do is posted to a travel blog for their friends and family to follow, giving the filmmakers a reason to frontload the film with the kind of goofy stylization an amateur documentarian might well indulge in. That Clif is a film geek practicing his craft affords a suitable excuse for a little more elaborate camerawork than the genre normally allows without going overboard.

Adhering to generally sensible internal logic, the playful editing and minor postproduction elements cease once it becomes apparent something very abnormal is going on. Lee and Prowse do a good job of trying to give the audience enough time to become invested in the personal world of Derek and Clif, letting us in on their dreams and fears, watching them have a great time skydiving and hanging with their buddies in touring band Unalaska before setting the horror to a slow boil.

The gradual transformation to bloodsucker is handled with patience and restraint, giving the excitement of the unknown due consideration, alongside the dread of realization these two steadfast friends face. Though Afflicted doesn't break new ground, this admonitory about trusting friendship above animal instincts generates enough desperate thrills to maintain interest throughout.

However, while it takes a character-first approach to genre and conceit, circumventing a few genre limitations in the process, the next Chronicle it is not. (eOne)