Superheroes come in a variety of shapes and sizes. In the case of Amir Masud’s Affliction, said superhuman comes in the form of Sara (Abigail Culwell), a young woman living in a women’s shelter who appears to be deriving telekinesis and telepathy from a small statue of the Virgin Mary. Even though Sara tends to use her powers to right wrongs, such as dealing with a local pimp (John Charles Meyer), it all comes at a cost. Each time she is gifted by the Virgin Mary, innocent people around her die at the same time.
Affliction deals with a number of superhero morality questions: Is the death of the few worth the protection and salvation of the many? Does absolute power corrupt absolutely? Can you really trust superpowers granted to you by a small Virgin Mary?
By the short film’s end, you’ll have an idea of how Sara answers those questions, but you’ll still be left with your own ideas and interpretations of whether you do or don’t agree. In that way, the short does more than just present a story, it offers an opportunity for some internal, philosophical debate.
If the film stumbles at all, it’s usually in how the various actors handle Sara’s powers. She’s not shooting lightning bolts or similar, it’s predominantly her victims being harassed or thrown about by unseen forces… which can look a little silly at times. In other words, if you’re in a more humorous mood when you watch this film, you may find yourself more prone to giggles than contemplation.
Overall, though, Affliction is a nice, dark piece about the ends justifying the means. If it weren’t a short film, I can imagine it being a one-off story in a comic book annual or the like.
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