Absentia DVD Review
Written by Simon Bland
DVD released by Second Sight Films
Directed by Mike Flanagan
Written by Mike Flanagan
2012, Region 2, 87 minutes, Rated 15 (UK)
DVD released on 9th July 2012
Courtney Bell as Tricia
Katie Parker as Callie
Dave Levine as Det. Ryan Mallory
Morgan Peter Brown as Daniel
Doug Jones as Walter Lambert
Justin Gordon as Det. Lonergan
If you're looking for attention snatching subject matter then avoid the multiplex. Having traveled through the hands (and pockets) of many a studio head, by the time most horrors reach mainstream cinema screens they've usually lost most of their edge. Instead you're much better off seeking solace in a bright-eyed independent effort. After all, it's amazing what can be achieved when finances are low and ingenuity is high. Absentia is a fine example of this, a word-of-mouth frightener that relies on an intriguing premise and moody mise-en-scene to lure you into its creepy clutches.
It follows the story of Tricia, a woman who has been dealing with the mysterious disappearance of her husband Daniel for the past seven years. Stuck in the depths of a gut-wrenching grief limbo, she eventually decides to have her MIA partner declared legally 'dead in absentia'. Clearly a painful decision, to make matters worse she's carrying the unborn child of the police office assigned to locate her missing hubby. With the paperwork filed and the case officially closed Tricia, joined by her ex-druggie sister Callie, can finally start to move on with her life. Or so you'd think. Riddled with guilt, she begins to have deranged visions of Daniel everywhere she goes. These come to a distressing climax when he reappears on her doorstep, distressed, visibly shaken and wearing the same clothes he disappeared in.
When Callie encounters a gaunt man in a nearby tunnel who's surprised that she can see him, alarm bells start to ring. Before long the duo starts to suspect that this ominous underpass may be responsible for the alarming number of missing persons in their suburban hometown. Could this be a gateway to a dark underworld? The answer is left for you to decide. Absentia's tense and unnerving tone leads viewers to a number of possible scenarios to explain what could be going on. Has Daniel spent the past seven years in a hellish purgatory? Is this all just a withdrawal hallucination from the recovering Callie? Does Tricia's over-protective father of her unborn child know more than he's letting on? Director Mike Flanagan lets you call the shots.
What we do know however is that this is a dark and intense ride which unravels at its own pace. If you were expecting a shock-a-minute rollercoaster ride, think again. Absentia asks for your time and rewards you with some visceral shocks tactics and a plot worth mulling over. However it's not without its faults. A brief appearance by Guillermo del Toro's go-to-creature man Doug Jones could have definitely be put to better use by strapping him into a creature suit. After all, Jones spends his days contorting himself into otherworldly shapes. However Flanagan's reluctance to show you the movie's real demons adds to its appeal. Like its mysterious bypass, you'll disappear into this movie and come out shaken.
Video and Audio:
16:9 Anamorphic widescreen benefits the movie's brooding tone, inviting you in from the first scene. Its Dolby Digital 2.0/5.1 sound is great too, especially when utilised for scares.
Sadly none were available.