STARRING: Katie Parker, Courtney Bell, Dave Levine, Morgan Peter Brown
DIRECTED BY: Mike Flanagan
Out Now On DVD
WHAT IS IT ALL ABOUT?
Daniel has been missing for seven years, Tricia Riley is pregnant and lives alone. Her husband Daniel has been missing for nearly seven years and after years of torment she is finally ready to move on and declare him “Dead in Absentia.” When her sister Callie moves in to offer her support and with the papers all set to be signed, Tricia starts to see visions of her husband who haunt her through day and night. When Callie encounters a homeless man by the name of Walter in a dark tunnel near their home, he utters the words “You can see me?” and will that comes a frightening notion that something evil is at work, something supernatural, something beyond evil……
The Hughes Verdict!
When we sat down to create HorrorCultFilms, our main aim was to give fans of horror a place where they will be told that there was loads of little horror’s out there waiting to be found and loved. If it was not for films like Session 9, then I doubt HCF would be here today, because the friendship you see in the HCF Office was born from discussing that film and sharing the love of others that many did not know of. Its a trait that has continued over the years, when Matt stumbled upon The Objective he could not wait to tell us and we rushed to watch. Likewise when I discovered The Torment, the rest of the guys could not wait to watch and like always, we then talked for hours on end at how great it was and how sadly its being missed by so many.
This week I came across the cheaply made horror flick Absentia, a film that Matt himself has covered a bit on the news. I did really did not know what to expect, just hoping for a decent ninety minutes of some enjoyment. You the reader probably know that the Straight to DVD horror market is full of some absolute crap that at times makes you question why you love the horror genre, but you buy/rent them in hope that the film may turn out to be a diamond in the mud. From the first ten minutes of Absentia I had a few doubts, it looked cheap and somehow it did not grab me, maybe I was not in the right frame of mind sitting down to watch it, but then something happened…..a really good haunting made me sit up in interest, then it got intriguing, then a bit crazy, before heading towards the surreal and afterwards I realised that I had just seen one of 2012’s best horror films.
Having put up MISSING posters for the past seven years, Tricia ( Courtney Bell) is finally ready to put the ghost to bed. Pregnant by a mystery man and with her sister Callie (Katie Parker) moving in to offer support, Tricia is all set to declare the love of her life dead. But trouble starts when she starts to suffer “hauntings” from Daniel, night and day, the figure appearing out of nowhere, looking like death and muttering unheard dialogue. Tricia puts it down to stress, but Callie whose early morning runs takes her through this dark tunnel begins to suspect something odd, especially when she encounters a homeless man by the name of Walter. Taking him something to eat in a show of goodwill, ends up with her arriving home to find jewellery on her doorstep. Sounds strange? Well its gets more surreal especially when we come to the standout scene where a “haunting” is not a haunting at all and the film takes a turn into a different direction.
I have to say that I really loved this movie. It really does create an intense atmosphere of dread that sucks you in from the start. The film benefits from a strong cast that really act their socks off and lifts the limited budget that not once harms the direction the story goes in. Here director Mike Flanagan shows just what a talent he can be in this field. He knows that he does not have the money for any scary effects so instead invests all his energy of making sure the plot is well staged and the emotion and scares come from that. You actually feel the pain that Tricia goes through and the confused stance of Detective Mallory (Dave Lavine) whose involvement in the case has created feelings between the grieving wife and the man whose duty it is to find her husband.
Also the lack of any blood also helps the film. Its really nice to see a film born in the age of gore-porn not selling out to the fan base out there. This is an old fashioned yarn that is beautifully done.
But while I write those words, there is a downside which is quite strange because I am ringing the praises here. Yes guys I can see the confused looks right now, but let me explain. The overall concept is an intriguing one but the longing for Flanagan to keep on showing the “tunnel” made any surprises kept to a minimum. I felt that the story here just needed a bit of more mystery because every time we switched to Callie either running through the tunnel or the camera zooms towards it, you get a feeling that all the answers are there. Also for me personally there were problems with the reveal. I thought the idea was fresh and intriguing but the lack of real knowledge let the film down towards the end. Now I know that not knowing is usually a great sign and I am all for that, but here it just left too many questions and I felt a bit unfulfilled. Maybe it was the lack of budget or that I did not want the film to end, but I probably need to re-watch this again just to see if it works the second time.
At the end of the day though, those are minor grumbles. It pains me that films like The Woman In Black are doing great business but films like Absentia are rudely ignored because make no mistake this film is superior to the one starring Harry Potter. Its a Supernatural film with a slight twist and I have to mention it also cleverly offers an intriguing different development which you see with flashbacks towards the end. I loved that moment because its scary to realise that what could be an out of the ordinary scary occurrence could be seem so differently to those who are there to help you.
I’ll end this review like I started by mentioning HorrorCultFilms and say this is why I write for the site. I am so happy to be reviewing this little beauty because it gives many reasons into why I love the horror genre. Those who say the genre is dead are not looking in the right places and if this review can at least find one reader to go and seek this film out, then we at HCF have done their job, because Absentia is a film that needs to seen and cherished…..What are you waiting for?