adv. in the absence of*
Over 900,000 people are reported missing each year (2,300 every day) in the United States alone.** Unfortunately a majority of these missing persons are never found and the cases go unresolved. Explanations behind their unsolved disappearances could range anywhere from kidnapping, to runaways not surviving on the street, to being mutilated by an animal on land or sea. As you can see, the possibilities for disappearances are endless, yet realistic. But what if there was another explanation for someone vanishing without a trace outside the realms of what we can believe and comprehend?
Absentia (Fallback Plan/Blue Dot Productions) explores the pain of someone dealing with lack of closure when their loved one goes missing. Tricia's (Courtney Bell) husband disappeared off the face of the Earth seven years ago. Due to the lack of closure, she is still unable to move on with her life. She still posts "Missing" signs for her beloved Daniel (Morgan Peter Brown) all these years later in hopes that some way, somehow he will return to her.
She is soon visited by her sister Callie (Katie Parker) who is on the mend from post-drug rehab and plans to stay with her. Their relationship seems to be helping Tricia try to finally come to terms with everything. Another factor helping Tricia along the road to recovery is the romantic relationship that has developed between her and Detective Mallory (Dave Levine), the detective who has been working on Daniel's case the entire time.
Meanwhile, Callie jogs to help her physically strengthen herself against relapse into drug use. This is important because during her daily runs, there is always something weird happening around a small, dark underground overpass tunnel right down the street from Tricia's home. Sometimes she will get a strange feeling that comes over her and then sometimes she will see something like an apparent homeless person screaming to her for help. Between her jogging experiences and doing some research, she uncovers Daniel is just one of many reported missing persons in that little area spanning since the turn of the century. Nevertheless, Callie becomes convinced that the high volume of missing persons is linked to the small tunnel.
The cool thing about this film is that it is part ghost story, part mystery, part drama, and part psychological horror. All of these genres merge extremely well into one another that by ten minutes in to this flick, you will get sucked in by the story's mystery and won't be able to pull yourself away. The acting is outstanding, the technical aspects are on par with major production companies and the intriguing plot is one that will stay with you for awhile.
All of these praises aside, the best compliment to give director Mike Flanagan is that he really knows how to legitimately creep you out. In the some scenes, he really gives your heart a nasty jolt by implementing scare tactics completely out of the blue. Then in other scenes, he pushes your anxiety levels by using anticipation of the unknown for extended amounts of time.
Flanagan's impressive cinematic techniques are not just limited to using horror elements. One of these methods includes when Tricia explains certain scenarios of what she believes happened to Daniel at the beginning of the film to Callie. Tricia tells herself things, such as Daniel really being in the F.B.I. and that he had to leave for an important mission but secretly checks in on her every now and then. A scene of Daniel sporting a fed's suit, checking in on her house from the safety of a shady black car is shown over Tricia's narration. It helps her "accept" the way her life is now. It is a technique that is effectively used throughout the film with the lead characters and drives up the drama surrounding loss and acceptance.
Not only is this an excellent horror film, but it is a smart film overall. As a heads up, the ending is ambiguous to the point that your head will be rattling for days thereafter, but I think you are given enough information to come up with a satisfying and a bit unnerving of a conclusion.
Absentia is now available to watch on Video on Demand with a DVD release planned for later this year.
|4.5 of 5 Stars|
OH NO HE DID NOT SAY THAT
Geof is a boy genius who launched this site all the way back in 2009. When he is not tasting new beer or reviewing movies, he's busy playing video games or developing a master plan in his fortress of solitude. Usually being fueled by yet another raging Dr. Pepper buzz. Also a contributor at the Italian Film Review.