I love horror movies. I love horror movies that make me happy. Absentia did just that. Made me happy in my special place.
Absentia is as low budget as they come. In fact, it is revealed in the special features section of the DVD (a featurette called Absentia: The Retrospective) that the filmmakers raised the budget through a kickstarter.com campaign...a website that raises budgets for projects. I think I remember them saying that they raised something like $70,000 or something. Quite impressive, if you take into account the look of the film.
Writer/director Mike Flanagan does an amazing job with the creepy pace of the film. Of course it helps to have a great original score by Ryan David Leack and stunning cinematography by the talented Rustin Cerveny. Incidentally, it is also revealed in the featurette that they used a freaking HD SLR to lens the entire film. An SLR, people.
So, the premise is an interesting one. The film opens with a young preggers chick named Tricia (Courtney Bell) walking around the neighborhood reposting "missing" posters for someone who appears to be a long lost loved one. Her husband. It's revealed that he's been missing for about 7 years so, she's having a hard time declaring him "dead of absentia". Her sister Callie shows up at her doorstep looking for a place to stay after an apparent stint at rehab. Callie is pretty hot. Katie Parker, who plays Callie, is one of those girls in a horror film that exudes a certain realism to the entire production. I really hope to see more of her in the genre because I really love watching a film where stuff feels real and she feels like someone I might've known back in the day. And she's hot.
Anyway...so, Callie shows up to help her sister Tricia cope with the entire process of declaring her man dead...as well as mooch. During the coping process, it appears as Tricia has been knockin' boots with a gentleman caller of the uniformed variety. Enter Detective Mallory (Dave Levine)...a no-bullshit kind of cop who is trying his hardest to get to the bottom of the mystery of the missing husband, while also trying his hardest to get in dem panties...hence the whole preggers subplot.
Anyway...things get a little creepy while Callie goes for an early morning jog through a dark desolate tunnel. By the by....would it have killed the wardrobe department to dress Katie up in a more desirable jogging outfit instead of my basketball gear? So, she goes jogging until she meets up with Abe Sapien himself...Mr. Doug Jones.
Absentia gets a little creepier and weirder...but, I won't say anymore...as it's really a film to experience yourself. My only real complaints are more of the technical sort that have more to do with budget restraints than anything else. I would've loved to see more of the creatures of the film. Perhaps an out-of-focus shot in the tunnel or something. But, I do understand the choices made by the director.
I also find it curious that these people wouldn't just pack their shit and move the fuck out of that place. I mean...I would. Don't feel it necessary to wander the area posting "missing posters" when there are fucking creatures looking to enslave my ass.
Sorry...that was probably a little uncalled for. But, I just wanted to illustrate how the film made me feel. It scared me so much that I had to express how much I would move the fuck out of that place. So, you see...it is an effective little film made on the cheap. I can forgive all those budgetary complaints for the singular fact that this is a beautifully original film made by filmmakers with a grand understanding of the subtleties of scaring their audience. The cast is fine...the cinematography and score help create the tone of the story and Flanagan flexes his talent as an up-and-coming director in the genre.
Absentia is a great example of those low-budget gems that you see populate the Red Box these days. Usually those straight-to-DVD films are a poor waste of time (Devil Dolls). But, every one in a while...you get something really special that makes it all worthwhile. Absentia will make you happy in your special place.
Thanks for reading,