Fantastic Fest Review: Afflicted

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Just when you thought a trope had reached the end of its shelf life, a new vision appears and adds more days to that trope's expiration date. This year's vision comes in the form of a new horror film called Afflicted. Afflicted tells the story of Derek (Derek Lee), and Clif (Clif Prowse), best friends about to depart for a round-the-world trip of high adventure.

The film opens with a set of vignettes (shot in the style of MTV's The Real World), where the friends describe to the camera their long-standing friendships and excitement for this round-the-world trip. The trip begins in Barcelona where the friends meet some musician friends on the final leg of their European tour, which wraps in Paris a few days later.

After their friend's final show, our protagonists find themselves in a seedy Paris bar where we are treated to the obligatory horror film hookup scene. After "working the program," Derek finds himself in the company of a beautiful Parisian girl and soon disappears to his hotel room. After having a few more drinks, Cliff and his musician buddies decide to play a prank on Derek by crashing into the hotel room they are sharing. After barging into the hotel room, Clif and his friends are shocked to find Derek unconscious and sporting a nasty shoulder wound. In true horror fashion, this is a hookup gone wrong. This attack affects the remainder of their trip as Derek slowly sinks into illness.

You may be thinking "been there done that" when you read the description of these opening scenes. You might be right about that, but don't sign out quite yet. The remainder of the film tells a story you have not seen before. The attack in the first act leaves you wondering what actually happened in that hotel room. Who was that girl? Why did she attack Derek? Does Derek have a virus? A bacterial infection? Is he possessed by the devil? Afflicted explores the mysteries of the illness and I can tell you it is a fun ride.

Afflicted is the first feature film for Derek Lee and Clif Prowse, who shared in the roles of director, writer and lead actor. These guys are like Affleck and Damon on steroids. The movie's writing is skillful, providing elements of levity, concern, shock and awe at all at the right time and in the right places. These two gentlemen bring the authenticity of their friendship to the screen and you can definitely feel the highs and lows of their relationship as the film progresses.

Afflicted is a film that represents a remarkable re-imagination of a well known horror trope. If you are looking for a unique vision of horror, look no further than Afflicted.

Afflicted has a second Fantastic Fest screening on Tuesday, September 24 at 11 pm.