September 10, 2013 2:15am PT by Borys Kit
Toronto: Audience Member Becomes 'Afflicted' at Midnight Madness Screening
Afflicted, a found footage take on the vampire genre, tapped into the Midnight Madness vein Monday night with a world premiere that had audiences jumping out of their seats.
In fact, Afflicted can take the prize for being so intense that one young man became woozy, hyperventilating as he stumbled out of the screening and barely managing to make it to a bench to get himself together.
All good signs for the debut of Canadian filmmakers Derek Lee and Clif Prowse, who wrote, star in and directed the micro-budget “vampire documentary” about two friends traveling through Europe. Their trip of a lifetime veers into the horror zone when one of them is bitten and gets sicker and sicker.
The movie, already picked up domestically by CBS Films, has shades of Paranormal Activity, Rec and Chronicle and offers effective scares. The crowd was jumping and screaming at certain sequences and appropriately grossed out during others. There's one scene in particular that will have people talking.
At the post-screening chat, Prowse said the filmmaking partners initially wrote a big action spec script but reeled it back in, realizing no company would let them make it. They decided to write something they could do by themselves.
Lee said that during a brainstorming session, Prowse threw out the idea of a vampire documentary, and while Lee initially laughed it off, the idea sunk its teeth into his brain.
“We can do all the horror action beats, but in found footage,” he said, explaining the thinking. “That way we can cheat the stuff we can’t do.”
He added: “We realized we could do a huge genre story but on a budget we could manage.”
Their guerilla tactics on half the shoot sometimes got them in trouble -- police chased them in Paris for shooting in a subway station -- but they lucked out by finding a very accommodating rural Italian town that offered them an ambulance, drivers and street closures for dirt cheap.
The movie now heads for its U.S. premiere at Fantastic Fest, the Austin-based genre film festival that runs Sept. 19-26.