Afflicted (Derek Lee & Clif Prowse, 2014)

Determined to stay one step ahead of an inhibitive neurological ailment, Derek strategically fast tracks longstanding plans to backpack around the globe with best friend Clif. Extensively documenting said exploits via travel blog, not a single highlight will go unpublished – up to and including a one-night stand gone horribly awry. Harshly reeling from the aftereffects in increasingly bizarre ways, Derek must collaborate with his best bud to procure answers despite the duo’s unmitigated bouts of hindering stupidity.

Firmly grabbing for attention as it wholly embraces the timely aforementioned gimmick, Afflicted‘s seldom strong suits are benchmarked by this initial lead-in. Unfolding as you’d expect it to, the film succumbs to a semi-agreeable implementation of the notoriously rote found-footage approach, just to become completely hamstrung by a pair of clueless and naivety-stricken leads once shit hits the fan.

Taking pride in technical proclivity over narrative poignancy, Clif and Derek’s ignorance not once ceases to amaze as their nonchalant acceptance of the latter’s transformation remains exceptionally asinine. While alternating bits of actual horror and agile high-jumping hijinks exist to varying degrees of success, it’s made too difficult for us to care about, let alone sympathize with either of the key players in the story.

Maybe it’s my unfettered hatred for an obviously exhausted gimmick. Maybe it’s my distaste for the individual trying to make his vampiric friend drink a jar of his own blood in the dark. Either way, Afflicted does little other than reinforce negative feelings toward an ever-popular (and gratingly so) niche of filmmaking, its brief flashes of ingenuity overshadowed by hollow narrative inanity and general silliness. In giving credit where it’s due, Lee and Prowse manage to do the most with a presumably shoestring budget; it’s just a shame that the proceedings unjustifiably take themselves too seriously and procure too little gratification despite their out-and-out visceral proficiency.

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