Written and directed by Jason Stoddard, this movie starts off with the now overused “based on a true story”. Now, I have no idea if this is actually closely based on one particular case or if it’s one of those movies based on a core idea that has it’s basis in horrid truth.
Far from an easy viewing, The Afflicted is all about a woman who uses both the name of the lord and the bottle after her husband tries to duck out in the middle of the night. She is left with three daughters and one son and begins to fill their lives with abuse and terror. There would seem to be no way out for the young girls (for some reason the son is usually left alone), no light at the end of this dark, dark tunnel.
Leslie Easterbrook stars as the mother from hell in this movie and she’s easy to loathe though her performance is quite an eye-rolling, over the top one. Kane Hodder has a small role, just onscreen long enough to draw the horror fans in, but the best acting onscreen come from the young girls playing the victimised daughters. Michele Grey and Katie Holland get put through the wringer while J.D. Hart provides the nearest thing to light relief as Cowboy Profit, a TV preacher who is far from a pure spirit (and, yes, I assumed it would be “prophet” but checking the credit listing online shows it spelled this way).
Relentlessly downbeat, Stoddard deserves credit for somehow pacing the movie in a way that builds its catalogue of abusive horrors while allowing viewers to breathe and wade through it to the very end. The sad fact is, however, that this kind of material has been done a number of times before, and better. In fact, many of the biggest flaws are typical genre flaws – easy ways out apparently not taken, escaping from danger only to stop running and instead hide somewhere pretty stupid, etc. The Magdalene Sisters is a better film, as is The Kid, and The Afflicted isn’t helped at all by the way it tries to appeal to the main horror crowd while also telling a story deserving of sombre, thoughtful treatment (which is not to say that horror works cannot be sombre and thoughtful).
DIRECTOR: JASON STODDARD
STARS: LESLIE EASTERBROOK, J.D. HART, MICHELE GREY, KATIE HOLLAND, CODY ALLEN, DANIEL JONES, KANE HODDER
RUNTIME: 85 MINS APPROX