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AFRAID (2018)

Directed by Jason Goldberg
Written by Nick Kreiss
Starring Alanna Masterson, George Byrne, Luke Baybak

THE WALKING DEAD’s Alanna Masterson stars as the object of everyone’s eye in the security cam found footage thriller AFRAID—a not so typical found footager.

A couple takes a romantic vacation in the woods not knowing that the cabin has been decked out with security cams by an offscreen creeper. Allana (played by Alanna Masterson) plans on making this vacation their last as she is about to move to college, leaving her boyfriend George (George Byrne) miles away. To complicate things more, Allana cheated on George with some dude a while back when she visited the college. Meanwhile, the creeper has hacked into Allana’s phone, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and just about every other social media accounts that the kids use these days, threatening to destroy Allana’s life.

In this day and age where social media seems to be all important, I guess AFRAID is going to strike a chord with someone. This is sort of a morality tale warning people not to put their lives online like they do every day. Allana’s addiction to her phone and all of its wonderful apps is bound to be familiar to the audience this film is speaking to, so most likely the danger of having one’s life hacked is going to strike feel in those types of people. Still, the stakes are quite low here. While the stalker is creepy in the way he is able to manipulate Allana into believing she is talking with her new boy toy or best friend behind her boyfriend’s back, there is no clear way of knowing if this is just a guy who wants to kill her or masturbate into her panty drawer.

It’s also very hard to sympathize with Allana who is pretty much a despicable human trashfire who cheats on her boyfriend and talks incessantly with her new boyfriend and best friend online about how difficult it is going to be to break up with him. Seeing her fight with George and then immediately text her new guy is some shallow and wretched behavior. Maybe this type of behavior is common in real life, but casting your protagonist as being a cheater and liar makes it really hard to empathize with them once the bad things begin to happen. Masterson does a decent job in the lead, despite the horrible things she does. She is front and center here the whole time and is able to carry the movie. The mystery as to who Allana’s stalker really is isn’t really that hard to figure out as there are only three people in this film. Still, director Jason Goldberg juggles the screenshots decently, flipping from computer screens to camera screens rapidly.

In the end, AFRIAD is just not for me. It feels as if it is made with a moral code and mentality that is foreign to me. Does that make me a grumpy old man or a hyper-moral prude? I don’t know. I just like to actually like the protagonist in a horror film and I surely didn’t feel that way in AFRAID.

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