Afriad DVD Review
Written by Giuseppe Infante
DVD released by Well Go USA Entertainment
Directed by Jason Goldberg
Written by Nick Kreiss
2018, 125 minutes, Not Rated
Released on October 2nd, 2018
Alanna Masterton as Allana
George Byrne as George
In an all too familiar backdrop, a young couple, Alanna (Alanna Masterton) and George (George Byrne), rent a secluded cabin in the woods for a getaway before her foray back to college. Their trip turns from quixotic to psychotic, as a voyeuristic madman is watching and stalking their every move via cameras throughout the home and property.
Afraid opens with a dozen small video-footage windows on the screen, each with a name to the locale, and we see black gloves connecting an electronics stack that will rival any hacker-nerd living in mom and dad’s basement. As the story progresses, we meet the couple, hear about their conflicts, including some dirty laundry, and descend into home invasion territory, but the ultimate question I ask myself at the end is, “Do I really care?”
I’ve been thinking about Afraid for the last 24 hours, which is affirming there is some substance to it. Racking by brain with why I didn’t enjoy the experience of watching, all I kept thinking was that I really wanted to like Afraid. The movie is not bad and has many positive attributes: decent acting, a creepy score, a crisp visual of the events unraveling—all around solid production values for an independent flick with a micro-budget. But there is something that surrounds this, and maybe it’s the tag-line “From the co-creator of Punk’d” (an MTV reality prank show starring Ashton Kutcher), or maybe there is only so much it can do in these tight quarters before things feel bland, redundant and familiar. My mind keeps associating the film with 2015’s 13 Cameras, which is a similarly styled, although more entertaining.
And that’s what it is. Afraid is not entertaining via the characters. Instead, I’m more concerned with the production attributes. For example, one of the stronger aspects is the score and silence. Both are used strategically to enhance the few effective jump scares and provide a sense of isolation aside from the physical setting of the forest. In contrast, working against the movie is the antagonist. Here we have another slasher wearing a lame mask with no creativity behind it. The creators had a golden opportunity to do something really scary, but instead it looks like a patient garbed up in a hospital isolation room. The back and forth questioning about the antagonist’s attire distracts from connecting with the main characters and the drama concerning the conflicts in their relationship. My notes on end with this: “… hallway though the film I said to myself, these people don’t belong together anyways, so who cares if they break up.”
In an honorable attempt, Nick Kriess (writer) and first-time director (but veteran producer) James Goldberg create a portrait of a couple’s descent into dismay at the hands of a stalking slasher. Although Afraid is not a shining star in 2018, it is not a total dud and is still memorable when it comes to how to make an indie flick look good, which is a challenging endeavor. Maybe I’m overlooking the deconstruction of the human condition via infidelity, paranoia, vanity and control, which is certainly present (but not felt as strongly). Regardless of all the hoopla, at the end of the credits, when it is clear as day that these people should not be together, an uneasy feeling rolls over me and Afraid plants a seed that may or may not stick with me as time goes by. There are real couples that do not belong together, and maybe this will help a young lady or skip to think twice before renting a cabin in the woods with their significant other.
So, do I care? Of course I do, it’s indie horror—but not about the protagonists’ relationship.
Video and Audio:
The DVD is presented in 16:9 Widescreen and Stereo 5.1 Surround Sound Dolby Digital. The film is crisp in look and sound, which is one of the stronger aspects of the production.
Trailers for three Well Go USA-distributed films are the only offered features.