We live in the golden age of the thrifty horror movie: Big studios purchase low-budget flicks and make a killing with it (Paranormal Activity, The Last Exorcism and all their clones). There is one problem with this business model: The films themselves seldom -if ever- live up to the premise that spawns it. Prime example is The Purge: Fantastic concept (all crime is allowed for a short period of time), terrible execution (your standard house invasion thriller).

Afflicted does things differently: The concept may be a familiar one (vampirism), but it’s carried out with consistency and assurance, not a small feat for two first-time feature directors Derek Lee and Clif Prowse.

Canadian-based Lee and Prowse not only wrote, edited and directed the film. They also star in it. Using the found-footage approach, Afflicted tells the story of two life-long friends on a backpacking trip through Europe. The idea is to break with the safety of their ordinary lives and live dangerously, particularly after one of them is diagnosed with a potentially deadly condition. True to form, they are blogging it all and taking suggestions.

The regulatory “sex with a stranger” feat has unexpected consequences, as Derek ends up with a couple of scars, superhuman strength and a craving for fresh meat.

Derek’s transformation is the high point of Afflicted. It follows natural progression as opposed to overnight fang growth. The limited budget is stretched beyond belief and, for the most part, succeeds at fulfilling its goals without bringing attention to its resources (or lack thereof). Unfortunately, during the second half, Lee and Prowse fall into perfunctory stunts and traditional genre grooves like maker vs. creation and the ethics of killing humans for a living.

Never mind the shortcomings. Afflicted is satisfactory enough and the future for Lee and Prowse looks promising.

Two and a half prairie dogs. Afflicted is available on demand.