Friday, January 20, 2012

The Afflicted and A New Breed of Sadism: A Movie Review

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*full disclosure: an online screener of this film was provided by Midnight Releasing.

Director/writer: Jason Stoddard.

Cast: Leslie Easterbrook, Kane Hodder and J.D. Hart.

Hell hath no fury than a woman scorned but in the case of The Afflicted, Hell should be afraid ... very afraid of Maggie (Leslie Easterbrook). She is a loving wife one day and a paranoid bi-polar Bible thumping she-devil the other.

That might be the trauma that affects her, and as she unleashes her seething anger, people should be running away. Even Hank (Kane Hodder, Friday the 13th series) proves he's no Jason against Maggie. After a seemingly nice birthday for daughter, Carla (Katie Holland), the happiness has gone south. He sees something wrong with his wife, and needs time to figure it out. Perhaps the hug she gave the pastor John (J.D. Hart), better known as the Cowboy Profit, a tele-evangelist, was more than he could handle.

When he needs to go take a walk, perhaps for good, Maggie is there to intercept him, and the nightmare is just beginning. This movie takes a dark look at more than just a perturbed mind. It shows how a family unit can fall apart when all there is is misbegotten faith and dark demons plaguing Maggie's soul.

Her three girls, Carla, Cathy (Michele Grey), and Grace (Randi Jones) have to take the abuse. They are trapped in a cage with no bars. Although they could have fled anytime, who they could go to is limited.

There's the neighbour, the cowboy profit who seems to only make life worse. Maggie believes in his word perhaps too much. Any other friend or family is not really considered, and that makes life even more unsettling.

This psychological thriller becomes too self-contained, and it shows the various degrees of her sanity going off kilter more than once. But interestingly, when she was out in public, she seems to be controlled. But what goes on in her mind is still an anger that is convincingly hidden. Easterbrook does a great job at the emotional connection, and although her performance is over-the-top, that can be dismissed just to watch her slip into a stereotypical Texan style performance. The accent may not be fully authentic either.

The girls are a point of being afraid of anything they do can set her off and kudos have to go to the young actresses for playing characters that not many may want to undertake. The theme of child abuse is a difficult one to tackle, and this film handles the various points of views fine. Even though this movie is a product of fiction, it takes some inspiration from the case of Theresa Knorr, an equally sadistic woman who had two sons involved in her misery. This is where this film delivers more chills than in what the lone son, Bill (Cody Allen), does.

He obeys mama without question. Some may even wonder what the punishment is in Texas for being an accomplice to murder. He has the potential to be the next Norman Bates, (or Michael Meyers for that matter) but this film does not go that far and no time is spent in developing this character. The most understated character is terribly underutilized. The movie prefers a clean ending to a questionable one, and in the horror this film breeds, it's one that will get people talking.

Mama may know best but not when she is listening in.

Overall: 7 out of 10.

*DVD release date: April 3rd, 2012.

The film's homepage is here:

Afflicted's Official Website

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