Have you ever felt like you are being watched? That is what happens to our two characters in the new contained thriller Afraid.
A couple, played by Alanna Masterson (“The Walking Dead (TV)”, “Mistresses (TV)”) and George Byrne (“The Window East (Short)”, “The Mindy Project (TV)”) take a weekend retreat only to have their romance turn into terror, when they realize every move they make is being watched by the owner of the cabin they are staying at.
Of course this reveal happens around the midpoint, so the couple has already had their private moments exposed. This mystery voyeur has a rather dramatic way of letting these two know they are being closely watched, I will not spoil such details here.
While Afraid has a very basic plot which is derivative, I must admit that the writing and execution of this narrative was done well. This movie is guilty of several empty jump scares that are now cringe worthy for the genre. I guess some viewers like any scare, I feel that doing these false scares is a missed opportunity to amp up the horror and suspense during the parts of a movie that need it the most.
That being said, I was impressed with the history layered into these two characters and the natural yet honest way it was performed. Many would know actress Alanna Masterson from her various television roles including Tara Chambler from The Walking Dead. Newcomer George Bryne holds his own with her.
The trailer and other publicity materials are quick to point out that Afraid is directed by Jason Goldberg, who also produced the hidden camera television series Punk’d.
This is relevant, seeing that Afraid is entirely shown from the point of view of surveillance camera footage. Think Paranormal Activity except the ghost are human and like to watch.
Afraid is the first feature for Jason Goldberg as a director. Nick Kreiss wrote Afraid, after looking up his credits it makes sense that they boast “From the Producer of Punk’d” instead of, what else would you expect from the writer of Little Bitches.
The static camera style works well here and does not feel like a gimmick. The filmmakers change things up to keep the story visually interesting despite this limitation.
The sound design is okay but could have been exaggerated to add more tension and movement to these largely stationary scenes. Overall, Afraid was what I expected given what the premise is, nothing more, nothing less.
They created a compelling story, with just two people and a house, not an easy task, but movies like Creep remind us how well this can work. There are moments that will genuinely surprise you and these characters are truly put to the test.
If these documentary style thrillers get your blood stirring, I say give Afraid a look. Well Go USA is releasing Afraid on Digital and DVD on October 2nd.
Curt Wiser is the Writer, Director of the suspense movie Cam-Girl. As an artist he is happy to watch other movies and share them with the world. (We promise, he likes to watch movies, not people.)