Search the Cinema Head Cheese Archives!

April 5, 2012

Movie Review: The Afflicted (2010)

Directed by Jason Stoddard
Starring Leslie Easterbrook, Kane Hodder and J.D. Hart

This indie-thriller takes you inside the lives of a family torn apart by a mother's slow descent into insanity. Leslie Easterbrook plays the role of Mother Maggie, a woman who, even at the beginning of the movie I thought was just not quite right in the head. It didn't take her long to prove me right when she awakens late one night to find her husband sneaking out the front door with his bags packed, apparently fed up with his wife's religious rantings and erratic behavior. After failing to convince him to stay she solves the situation by beating him to death with a baseball bat.

Buy The Afflicted on DVD

She then ties him to the bumper of the family wagon and drags him out to the shed where she stashes him in an old freezer. Apparently everyone takes her word for it when she tells her four teenage children that their father has ran off with another woman and abandoned them all. A depressed Mother Maggie soon takes to drinking and becomes obsessed with a local television evangelist known as the Cowboy Prophet (J.D Hart). And although Hart does a solid job in his role I was never really able to figure out what the actual purpose of his character is for, he's not quite a good guy and he's not quite a bad guy so I figure his main purpose is as something of a pressure-release valve in between the tense and uncomfortable scenes of abuse of the teenage kids by the relentlessly violent and murderous mother.

With no one to support the family now, Mother Maggie consults with God and he tells her the children need to start pulling their weight around the house by getting a job, this unfortunately means prostituting her daughters out to a violent trucker. And things don't get much better after this, Maggie is convinced she is getting fat so she takes it out on the youngest daughter, forcing her to eat bowls of Crisco with mac & cheese. When the daughter resists, mom pulls a pistol and shoots her in the shoulder, nice as you please. She then gets dragged into the bathroom where she is hand-cuffed to the shower rail and basically left to die. The same fate awaits the second daughter after a failed escape attempt. Mom forces the remaining two kids to beat her to a bloody pulp and lock her in a closet where she eventually dies a couple weeks later. Things come to a head soon after the oldest son drives to the edge of town and dumps his dead sister on the side of the road and sets her ablaze.

The acting was pretty solid all around in this one, with Leslie Easterbrook's performance being showcased nicely. Most people will remember her as Mother Firefly in Rob Zombie's The Devils Rejects. And I will say this, she plays the part of the boozing lunatic with gusto and heart. Her performance really was fun to watch, even though the subject matter and overall tone of the movie was bleak and depressing. My only real gripe with this movie was the question that was nagging me throughout the entire film, Why don't these kids just up and leave? Especially since she's tipping over drunk the entire time and they are all plenty big enough to physically over power her. Why don't they just grab that pistol out of the drawer and call the cops? Especially after they start dying? The pendulum does swing in that direction eventually but why did they wait so long and why didn't any of the siblings attempt to help each other out during this long ordeal? That kind of bugged me a bit, especially since this movie claims to be based on a true story. I would hate to think that the actual kids this movies characters are based on would actually act like this.

The Afflicted isn't a fun movie, but it does have solid acting. Its bleak, claustrophobic and depressing, as most movies based on torture are. Personally, films based on parents torturing and murdering their children isn't my cup of tea, but Leslie Easterbrook's performance alone makes this one worth a watch in my opinion. Her character is just so insanely evil.

6 out of 10 Reviewed by KennyB


  1. Wow! This film was insane and I couldn't stop watching it for a second. It is non-stop suspense..what in the world is this crazy woman going to do next. I highly recommend this film to everyone because no matter what type of movies you like, you can't help but love a well made movie based off of a true story! Love it!

  2. You may ask why didn't the kids run? Read the story of Theresa Knorr these kids stayed through the torment for over 16 years! It's "TRUE LIFE HORROR!", but thanks for the great review Kenny.

  3. To the author's struggle re: how/ why the children stood by while this terrible abuse occurred... First, yes, this is based on a true story. The siblings did, in fact, stick around and not only watched the abuse but also participated in it (primarily the sons on the daughters). While your confusion is understandable, one must understand the power that fear and abuse has, especially on children and adolescents. Psychologically, they could not simply just leave or run away. The only surviving daughter, Terry, in the real family was not able to actually leave until she stood up to her mother and requested to leave the house. It sounds crazy, but this way of thinking is common in situations where victims are severely abused, tortured, etc... This was not just a concept in the movie, but actually occurred in the real events.