Directed by Jason Stoddard
Loosely based on the true crime novel ‘Whatever Mother Says’, about the life of Theresa Knorr
Starring: Leslie Easterbrook, Kane Hodder, J.D. Hart, and Michele Grey
Leslie Easterbrook plays the lead role of ‘Mother Maggie’, a disturbed mother of four who delivers an unimaginable level of abuse to her children while defending her actions with her own twisted interpretations of the Bible. Three daughters live in constant fear of being beaten and abused by their mentally disturbed mother. Escaping the wrath of their mother seems impossible and proves to be deadly. Based on a true story, The Afflicted takes you inside the lives of those who live in constant fear with no escape. Written by Lee Dashiell
Okay, this will ruin your Sunday afternoon. The bright sunshine illuminating my foyer isn’t warming my skin or mood. There’s one specific horror movie formula that delivers wonderfully or sinks like a millstone. I’m referring to based on a true story + religion + mental illness. The Afflicted has no buoyancy and succeeds as a gritty true to life horror tale. This tale isn’t cautionary; this is a study of one woman’s abusive past decimating her family’s present. You may want to go run a hot bath before we get started – it might be needed afterward.
Leslie Easterbrook is a rock star of crazy. You might remember she picked up the role of “Mother Firefly” in The Devil’s Rejects after Karen Black backed out after House of 1000 Corpses. So, she knows crazy. Personally, I liked her confidant crazy versus this traumatic and deeply rooted version of insane. Maggie catches her husband (Hodder) leaving her in the middle of the night, and doesn’t react too well. After she breaks the news to her children that their father has “abandoned” them, the latent crazy bubbles to the surface. Addicted to both alcohol and a local fraud of a pastor, Maggie slips deeper down the rabbit hole, forcing her children to endure beatings, every kind of mental torture, rape, and even a shooting; you can’t help but watch the film with every muscle in your face pulling double duty.
The acting is great, but the low-budget directing and editing leave a lot to be desired. The film is ham-fisted and awkward in its presentation, but not enough to turn me off completely. I would still recommend this all things considered, maybe just to make you realize your mother wasn’t that bad. She may have been a road whore for Nickelback, but she wasn’t pimping you out or wiping you from the face of the earth. The Afflicted is yours for the low price of $1.99 on Amazon VOD. If you’re not in a good place right now, I would avoid watching the polar opposite of Hope Floats. Every review for the book says the horrors are beyond unspeakable and the film is a clunky, watered down version of these kids’ real life horror. Be wary, kids – you were warned.