By Christopher Redmond

Mailed on June 12, 2014

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Dear Sue Biely
New Media Consultant

Dear Sue,

There's a lot of buzz online about Afflicted, the little Canadian horror film that could. This very well might be due to the fact that they worked with a savvy professional like you. Except this is a sustained buzz - not the kind that's not based on a goofy title (Sharknado, Wolfcop) or a gruesome premise (Human Centipede). Instead, you were promoting something with actual value: great production, smart execution, and a satisfying payoff.

Is it only a coincidence that the film's central premise also revolves around the life-sucking power of new media?

You know what I mean.

Cliff Prowse and Derek Lee co-direct and co-write as co-stars, and in the first section of the film we follow their excellent adventure from Vancouver to Europe as they shoot, edit, and post videos of themselves on their year-long trip around the world. The selfie-style cinematography puts the film in the found footage genre, even if the moniker doesn't strictly apply. The video isn't being pieced together retroactively, so the first sections of the film are designed to replicate those energetic, title-happy YouTube videos that have come to define a generation. Derek's precarious health is the catalyst of the journey, but also sets the stage for the film's darker developments.

These are the elements that you - and any marketing person - would likely want to focus on. But the strength of Afflicted is that the filmmakers don't lose themselves in the restrictions of the genre. Like the Derek character, whose body begins to transform, so to does Afflicted--into something that bears a much closer resemblance to Josh Trank's Chronicle _than _Quarantine. The story moves along at an energetic pace, and the trick cinematography, combined with seamless visual effects, allows us to believe that this is all taking place in a state of semi-reality we're familiar with.

Most refreshingly, the film doesn't exist simply to carry a few GIF worthy moments. Instead, it takes the hard road: developing its characters, sustaining our interest with engaging plot developments, and building steam towards the finale (instead of losing it). The lesson being, I hope, that earned praise is tweetable, too.

Happily infected,


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