Review by Derrick Carter
Running Time: 1 hour 40 minutes
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Directed by: Jack Thomas Smith
Written by: Jack Thomas Smith
Starring: Jason Mac, Elliott Armstrong, Ana Shaw, Catherine Trail, Don Henderson Baker & Mahri Shelton
Beginning with a potentially promising set-up that echoes the still unreleased POUGHKEEPSIE TAPES, INFLICTION is a movie that falls victim to a lot of lazy writing and bad production values. If you’ve been loving each and every found footage horror flick released since THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT, then you might find something of value in this handheld slasher flick. For those looking for a unique found footage experience or a simply scary film in general, you’re better off steering clear of this cheap and cheesy B-movie. The really upsetting thing is that with a better cast and a few script rewrites, INFLICTION might have been a surprising diamond in the rough. This is just typically bad found footage that does nearly everything you’d expect it to and comes off as an entirely unpleasant experience for reasons different from what director/writer Jack Thomas Smith may have been hoping for.
INFLICTION is composed of “footage” shot by the Stiles brothers. In 2011, the two psycho siblings went on a killing spree and filmed the entire thing. Needless to say that we’re watching their carefully planned execution of these series of murders and there’s a deeper motivation for these shocking crimes that comes ever so slowly to light with each scene of bloodshed. As with all “perfect” crimes (especially maniacal sprees by amateur serial killers), complications arise and we witness everything through the lens of the camera.
To the credit of Jack Thomas Smith as a writer, there are a couple of moments in INFLICTION that did take me by surprise. I appreciated that there plot and reasoning behind these acts of murder. This wasn’t just a psycho with a camera recording his gory deeds that we’ve seen a thousand times in tons of times in this subgenre. However, the overly familiar and clichéd dialogue ruin a lot of this one good aspect. Even if the writing had been absolutely stellar, the horrible acting from everybody involved would have tanked this project. Every single actor seems to be either reciting lines from cue cards or milking things they’ve seen in past movies. Jason Mac as the older Stiles brother also reminded me quite a bit of TROLL 2’s George Hardy in both the quality of his performance and his unnatural line delivery.
INFLICTION never once presented me with the illusion of it being real. This is an essential piece for a found footage movie, especially one centered squarely in the realm of horror, to work. The bad acting and worse effects (some of the cheesiest fake blood I’ve seen in a long while) plant the corniness of this silly B-flick in your brain. The movie also runs far longer than it should have (at 100 minutes). There’s a sense that the mistake was constantly made of would-be shock value substituting for plot developments, even with those slightly surprisingly revelations of how things would move forward from certain points.
I took a chance and was hoping that INFLICTION might wind up being a decent little low-budget horror flick and was so very wrong. This is a cheap exploitation film that merely winds up as yet another bad handheld horror flick in a flooded market. There’s still life in the subgenre yet (e.g. AFFLICTED, the V/H/S franchise, and THE CONSPIRACY), but INFLICTION unremarkably goes through the motions of everything expected from a lame piece of “found footage.” Do yourself a favor and skip this one.