July 31, 2011

Filthy Review - Absentia

Absentia (2011)

Review by Jude Felton

The loss of a loved one is a terrible thing. Maybe more tragic would be the unexplained disappearance of someone close, not knowing where they are or what has happened to them. Are they dead or alive? It must truly be soul destroying to have to deal with that. Absentia takes this subject matter and throws a delightfully sinister twist on this subject, as if the subject itself isn’t sinister enough already.

Tricia (Courtney Bell) is coming to the terms of having to declare her husband dead in absentia. He has been missing for almost seven years and with no clue as to what has happened to him feels she needs to move on in her life. Her sister Callie (Katie Parker) moves in with her to offer support in this difficult time.

As time goes by though Tricia keeps having visions of her husband, looking worst for wear, and Callie also see’s strange things that lead her to believe that not all is cut and dry with her sister’s husband’s absence.

Absentia truly is a methodic and studied exercise in gradual dread. There are no cheap thrills or lazy laughs here, in fact there is very little in this movie to alleviate the somber tone. Director Mike Flanagan, who also wrote the movie, ensures that not too much is ever given away, instead demanding that us, the viewers, question what is going on. All is eventually revealed, to a degree, but not in a convenient manner to appease lazy audiences.

Part of the enjoyment of horror films is the uncertainty, the unknown, the fact that not everything can be tied up to a comfortable conclusion. This is part of the reason that Absentia works so well, things are hinted at but never thrust fully in the viewer’s face. Questions are asked and it is up to the viewer to come to their own conclusions.

Absentia isn’t a gruesome movie, although there is the occasional bloody scene, instead it focuses on the lead characters and their reactions to the events onscreen. The dark tone only intensifies as the movie moves forward and offers the viewer no real respite.

The only real negative comments I have are not with the movie itself, which I think is excellent, but with some of the accompanying artwork. I’ve included both here, so you tell me which one you think I have a problem with.

Aside from that petty gripe I recommend you give this a spin at the earliest convenience. This is definitely a movie for fans of horror that isn’t spoon-fed to the viewer and actually has some thought and originality behind it.

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