There’s one thing I have to hand it to the film makers behind the “Based on a True Story” The Afflicted (2010) and that is that they know how to use Leslie Easterbrook. Easterbrook has made a comeback which started with Rob Zombie’s The Devil’s Rejects (and continued with the remake of Zombie’s Halloween and the 2008 version of Ted Dekker’s novel House) but now she’s popping up everywhere but in this film she takes center stage as an overzealous religious fanatic who starts to lose control when her husband (played by horror icon Kane Hodder) decides to leave her. Being a horror film Easterbrook doesn’t let her husband leave quietly and she spends the rest of the film torturing her children whom she keeps locked up in the house. Easterbrook puts Carrie White’s mother to shame and the film is better for it.
Despite Easterbrook’s manic performance the rest of the film is not as interesting as from the beginning the audience wonders why the four children stuck in the domineering household just don’t get up and run away or pick up any of the household items available to use against their mother. In the film Carrie (1976) we understand why she never leaves home which is because she has no friends and nowhere to go, but Easterbrook’s children are not awkward or outcasts but seem “normal.” By the time one of them decides to run away it’s too late and she doesn’t even run far enough away to actually get away but instead stops to hide in a shed where she is easily recaptured.
The film lacks any real focus and is meant to be a decent into madness and chaos but it really comes off as timid and unbelievable especially towards the final moments of the film. Directed by Jason Stoddard, the film does a good job of letting Easterbrook do what she’s good at. When she is not on the screen the film lacks the immediacy and carnage that she does so well. Just imagine the scenes in Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986) when Michael Rooker is not on the screen and you know what I mean.
The Afflicted is not a horrible film but it could have been one if not for Easterbrook. This is a film for Easterbrook fans while much everyone else will probably just dismiss it as another anemic horror film.