I have been hankering for a great horror movie for some time now. Though it seems that horror is really a hard genre to get right. Too much gore, too much camp, not enough interesting characters, idiotic plot elements – the list goes on and on. So I got on Rotten Tomatoes to find some relatively new releases with enough fresh tomato cred that won’t make me want to wish for my time back. Turns out I had two options Oculus and Afflicted.
I admit, I wanted to watch Oculus just because Karen Gillan (a.k.a. Amy Pond from Doctor Who) was in there sporting an American accent. I slept through the first few scenes, gave up, and did a Guillermo Del Toro (just listened to his interview in the Nerdist Podcast. Apparently, he watches at least 1 movie a day but if the first few scenes didn’t grab him, he turns it off and walks away).
Afflicted was a better choice although I’ve never heard of the writers and the actors before. This film belongs to a sub genre of “found footage films” which is so common these days, it has become in danger of being a cliche (if not already). These types of films usually gives me a headache with the shaky cams but thankfully, this one’s got better video tech, I suppose and not a Go-Pro in sight.
Bromance and parkour is probably two words that are not commonly associate with the horror genre but there it is. Although the film is basically a vampire story, not a sparkly make-up or doe-eyed teenage girl is in sight (oh wait… there is but just for a sec! Promise!)
The story begins immediately with their first video post about 2 friends’ (Derek and Clif) epic 1 year long adventure traveling around the world. But unfortunately, Derek finds out he has a brain condition called AVM that basically means there’s a possibility he could die at any moment. The doctor advises Derek not to push through with the trip but he’s pretty determined. His condition becomes more of an inspiration that Clif wanted to capture on video.
Their adventure starts in Barcelona, then to Paris where Derek meets Audrey and they seem to get along (if you know what I mean). Clif, together with 2 other friends, decided to prank him by bursting in the room but when they do, they find him bloodied with a gashing wound on his arm. Afraid of going to the hospital (because doctors might cut their trip short), Derek insisted that they continue their trip and they headed to Italy.
First signs of something wrong was the lethargy and sensitivity to light. Next, Derek had an epic public vomit in a restaurant because he can’t keep his food down and he got the worst sunburn ever while walking through a vineyard. They discover his super strength and speed accidentally and this began a montage of stupid stunts that I didn’t care for but I can believe that if you where male and had discovered superpowers, yes, you will do these stupid stunts to test your limits.
Realizing that Derek may be exhibiting symptoms of vampiric nature, they began to find animal blood that can satisfy Derek’s thirst including the murder of poor Babe. Unfortunately, this vampire strain is apparently is more terrifying than that of the Twilight folks. He can only drink human blood.
After a failed blood bank robbery and equally pathetic ambulance heist, Clif woke up to the most nastiest thing you could wake up to – your friend with white eyes and unnaturally contorted body staring at you hungrily while you sleep.
Clif finally decided to make the ultimate sacrifice and shared his blood but Derek got out and when Clif finally found him, he wished he never did.
The next scenes were all shot by Derek and he explains how he wants to honor Clif by continuing with the videos. He tried to commit suicide by blowing his brains out but apparently, that does not work. (I kept wondering if explosions would work.)
Interpol tracked him and he became a wanted fugitive. But he needed to find Audrey to get some answers so he went back to Paris to find her. Although he eventually did find him, as I’ve already guessed, she did not know of any cure or way to kill themselves. She told him how he needed to feed to remain in control; otherwise, he becomes a monster driven by primal instinct to kill. “You can’t choose not to kill but you can choose who you kill. It makes a difference.” And then, he asked her why she chose him. “You were dying. I thought I was being kind.” I think they should’ve cast a different actress because her accent was so thick I could not understand her clearly.
In an effort to atone for his crimes, he decided to do a Dexter and choose bad men such as a sadistic pedophile to eat.
A lot of the action in this movie reminds me of first person shooter video games. And it works especially the dark setting and just enough gore to be believable and not look utterly ridiculous.
Overall, I like this film. Even though the vampire mythology is a tad overused these days, I like their somewhat realistic take on it. The characters were interesting and the action/suspense was fantastic. If I was giving away stars, I give this a 3 and a quarter stars!
Let the movie play till the credits to find out what really happened to Clif!