directed by Mike Flanagan
starring Courtney Bell, Catherine Parker, Dave Levine
Absentia is a rare kind of movie that actually feels unique and original, made with palpable passion behind it. The low budget is perhaps noticeable, but at no point a hinderance because the film is driven by a mysterious, interesting plot, and is delivered with genuine scares in a dark atmosphere. Furthermore, Absentia excels in areas where a lot of horror movies lag and creates characters with real depth and engaging identities. The story told is of a woman whose husband disappears and is not seen or heard from for over seven years. After years of searching, dealing with the grief and questions, she finally files paperwork to declare him legally dead. Shortly afterward, he suddenly reappears but is not quite the same.
Much of the beauty behind Absentia is its simplicity. From the ambient soundtrack, to the many fuzzy, out-of-focus long shots that feel almost dream-like, the style of the movie pairs with the story perfectly. Much of the plot, especially towards the end, deals with of grief and loss and the patterns people take with creating or recreating memories. Leaving spoilers aside, Absentia particularly impressed me because of the variety of personalities from the three main characters and how they simultaneously dealt with the same problems. While the ending may leave some unsatisfied, to me it felt like a wholly appropriate puzzle presented after all of the clues were left behind.
Most importantly, Absentia delivers on the scares. They are sudden, sometimes jumpy but not cheap, while not relying on predictable camera angles or typical horror gimmicks. The scares are not easy to anticipate, are frequent enough, and paired with the unsettling and enigmatic plot, Absentia leaves the audience with a dark, perturbed feeling. There are a few moments in the middle where the film might lag, and the acting may not be top notch throughout, but Absentia is absolutely worth a look for any fans of atmospheric, supernatural horror.