Published Apr 03, 2014How far would you go to help a sick friend? Would you take them on a world tour? Would you help them cover up a murder? What about letting them feast on your own blood? Clif Prowse does all that and much more in Afflicted, a found footage-style vampire horror film that takes the idea of being "best friends forever" to new, bizarre heights.
First-time feature length filmmakers Prowse and Derek Lee — who also happen to star as exaggerated versions of themselves in the film — play a pair of childhood friends who decide to go on a globe-spanning adventure after Lee is diagnosed with a rare brain disorder that could result in a sudden hemorrhage and his subsequent death at any given time. In pure West Coast idealistic fashion, the pair get all The Buried Life on each other and decide to document their journeys online for friends, family and strangers to see.
While on vacation in Paris, however, Prowse finds Lee unconscious in the duo's dorm room one night after leaving Lee to spend some time alone with a mysterious woman. With a minor head wound and gash on his arm acting as his only visible injuries, the gruesome twosome trek on to Italy, but Prowse slowly starts noticing a change in Lee's appetite, vision and power as an unknown affliction begins to take hold of his body.
Armed with super strength and a newfound aversion to the sun and seafood linguine, Prowse and Lee do what any two buddies would do when faced with such a situation: spend their evenings destroying public property and watching Lee jump off of random buildings. But as Lee's sickness gains control, the two soon discover they've bitten off a bit more than they can chew.
Kudos to Lee and Prowse for recognizing the genre's limitations early on in the film and smashing through them thanks to inventive cinematography and cunning CGI — including one POV fight scene filmed during post-production that would make any first-person shooting fan froth at the mouth.
For a movie with such macabre subject matter, Lee and Prowse also do a good job injecting some fun into the film. It's hard not to feel like these two friends — and the characters they're playing — are having a good time every step of the way, especially in one scene in which Prowse reads aloud an online encyclopedia entry on vampires, excitedly suggesting Lee may have the ability to morph into a wolf, bat or cloud of fog at any given moment.
Still, it's hard to imagine American audiences buying into this fairly low budget feature filmed by a pair of Canucks, which is a mostly un-scary — albeit definitely queasy — take on the often adolescent, mostly romanticized found footage and vampire film genres. But in an industry increasingly dominated by endless online streaming services and devices, expect this to be the first modern Canadian cult horror classic of the VOD generation.