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29 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Subtle, Minimalist Horror.
This is great, quiet, character-driven horror if you dig movies like "Session 9," "The Eclipse" or the work of directors like Kiyoshi Kurosawa. It is low budget, psychological rather than explicit, and a slow burn. Best to do research before you view it, as there has been some backlash because of the somewhat misleading cover art. This is a quiet, slow-burn movie made for...
Published 23 months ago by HorrorTerry78

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Different Kinda Horror
'Absentia' is a low-budget horror movie that released at limited theaters in 2011 to a mixed response, however won numerous awards.

The movie tells the story of Tricia (Courtney Bell) whose husband Daniel (Morgan Peter Brown) has been missing for seven years. As she tries to get on with life, her younger sister Callie (Katie Parker) moves in with her. Both the...
Published 17 months ago by Mitun


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29 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Subtle, Minimalist Horror., 4 May 2012
By 
HorrorTerry78 (Los Angeles, CA USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Absentia [DVD] (DVD)
This is great, quiet, character-driven horror if you dig movies like "Session 9," "The Eclipse" or the work of directors like Kiyoshi Kurosawa. It is low budget, psychological rather than explicit, and a slow burn. Best to do research before you view it, as there has been some backlash because of the somewhat misleading cover art. This is a quiet, slow-burn movie made for no money. It is gore-less, does not show the monster, and more of a film festival character drama with horror elements.

If you like movies with graphic gore, T&A, movies like "Saw" or "Hostel," or anything by Rob Zombie, you will almost certainly hate this movie. It requires an adult's attention span and an appreciation for character and subtlety. Highly recommended for discerning elevated-genre fans with healthy attention spans.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A microbudget gem, 4 May 2012
This review is from: Absentia [DVD] (DVD)
Wow, what a great find. ABSENTIA delivers a terrific story, great acting, and a chilling atmosphere for less money than most studio films spend on snacks. This is a quiet, character-driven drama with a few horror elements, not the aggressive horror film that the cover art would have you believe.

This movie isn't going to work for everyone. Some of the complaints I've read about it seem to be that it's boring (it's not, it's just a slow burn), that it lacks gore and nudity (it does, to its credit), and that it doesn't show the monster. It doesn't, and that's what makes this work for me.

This is a terrific example of DIY filmmaking done completely outside the system. With no resources, the filmmakers have put together a stirring and memorable thriller that punches far outside its weight class. It'll frustrate some viewers who expect something else, who have been misled by the cover art, or who don't understand exactly what it is that they're watching, but for fans of independent cinema this is an entirely unexpected gem.

I can't wait to see what they can do with a budget.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Some fates are worse than death., 5 May 2013
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This review is from: Absentia [DVD] (DVD)
Daniel went missing without a trace seven years ago, his wife, Tricia, is just about to sign the paperwork that would declare him dead in absentia. Tricia's younger sister called Callie who is a recovering drug addict, has just arrived to stay with her to help her cope with her pregnancy. Tricia suddenly starts to suffer horrible visions of her missing husband, and Callie finds herself drawn to a creepy tunnel near the house. Maybe Daniel is suffering a much worse fate than death, but what does it have to do with the tunnel?

For a very low budget film, Absentia is brilliantly acted. Courtney Bell who played Tricia was actually seven months pregnant during production, I thought that added a fantastic sense of realism to the film. She does a great job and the chemistry between herself and Katie Parker who plays her wayward sister Callie was excellent, it was very easy to believe they were siblings. I've read a lot about people complaining that the two female leads are chubby or fat, I can't disagree more. Bell was seven months pregnant so of course she wasn't going to be in great shape, no woman at seven months is. I found it even more shocking that people were calling Katie Parker chubby, I thought she looked like a really fit and healthy young woman who on more than one occasion reminded me of Amber Heard. No wonder so many women in Hollywood are making themselves gaunt and skeletal when someone as beautiful as Katie Parker is accused of being fat, I actually find that almost as disturbing as anything that happens in the film. The actors in supporting roles are quite good, Dave Levine is likeable as Det. Ryan Mallory, who is the potential love interest for Tricia. Morgan Peter Brown elicits sympathy as Daniel, Justin Gordon ever so slightly chews the scenery now and again but is quite solid, and Doug Jones who is better known as Abe Sapien in the Hellboy films gets a rare role where he isn't covered with prosthetics and does well.

Absentia was written and directed by Mike Flanagan and shot on a budget of just $70,000, and I think the extremely low budget helped the film. There's no overblown silly looking CGI, there wasn't the option of showing what might be there so they had to hint at it instead which is much more effective. The lack of budget meant that they had to rely on the plot, how the characters interact with each other, they had to make us care about the characters and they succeed. It's a very slow paced film with plenty of character development, and the two sisters felt like some of the most fleshed out characters in a horror film that i've seen in quite a long time. The film has plenty of depth and the first half of the film builds up the tension beautifully, the few jump scenes are pretty creepy and the mystery surrounding the tunnel is handled really well, so much so that we really worry for Cassie when she's simply out jogging in the bright sunlight. There are a few things that I wasn't all that fond of, I would have prefered the detectives to have had less screen time and more time spent with the sisters, there's a few scenes that are similar to previous scenes which was probably done due to the budget constraints, and even though I have no problems with the way the film ends, I was left with a few questions I would have liked to have answered. I can pretty much ignore all that when I think of what they achieved on a tiny budget. Absentia is not about nudity, blood, gore and quick cuts, it's a very slow film that really does seep under your skin as the plot unfolds.

The picture quality on the dvd released by Second Sight Films is excellent for the most part, it doesn't have the look of a low budget film at all. There are no extras on the disc at all, and there are no subtitles. There's two audio options, Dolby Digital 2.0 or Dolby Digital 5.1. The dvd front cover is a little misleading with it showing what appears to be black gloves pulling the woman into the tunnel, I wish more front covers actually matched what happens in the film.

Absentia isn't a flawless film, but it's a fantastic effort, especially when you consider how much it was made for. I'd recommend the film to any horror fan that has the patience to sit through a horror film that really takes its time to build an atmosphere and makes you think. Definitely one of the better horror films of 2011, and i'm eagerly awaiting Mike Flanagan's next horror film called Oculus that recently finished shooting. Several cast members from Absentia will be in it, including Bell and Parker.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Different Kinda Horror, 9 Nov 2012
By 
Mitun (Edinburgh, Scotland) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Absentia [DVD] (DVD)
'Absentia' is a low-budget horror movie that released at limited theaters in 2011 to a mixed response, however won numerous awards.

The movie tells the story of Tricia (Courtney Bell) whose husband Daniel (Morgan Peter Brown) has been missing for seven years. As she tries to get on with life, her younger sister Callie (Katie Parker) moves in with her. Both the sisters then find out about other disappearances as they experience mysterious happenings in the neighborhood.

The movie for me is made up of three parts, the first part is full of suspense and intrigue that pulls you in effortlessly. The second part is full of good character driven drama but the pace becomes slow. The third and final part really picks up in all areas, unfortunately the climax in the end doesn't explain anything.

The concept is fresh and original with an eery atmosphere accompanied by a number of twists. I loved the unpredictability. Where it falters is with the inconsistent screenplay, presenting the viewer with too many important questions without giving enough answers and finally the end, which wastes all the hard work done in the movie.

The DVD cover art is something to mention, its an attention-grabbing cracking cover with a generous number of positive critique endorsements. Some viewers might find the cover deceiving as it promises a lot of scares and possible gore without living up to it.

The performances are all mostly average, sometimes bordering on the weak side apart from Katie Parker who seems to have a good screen presence.

Now for the star of the show, the director Mike Flanagan does a magnificent job with a $70,000 budget, creating a sort of atmosphere that big budget films fail to do. He also skillfully causes the audience to use their imagination and interpretation. Making them feel that the feature is something more than what it actually is. This is just the start for Mr. Flanagan.

'Absentia' for some will be boring and for others a hidden gem.

For me, just like Daniel's character, something was MISSING.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Damn good, 2 July 2012
By 
misterkraig (The West Country) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Absentia [DVD] (DVD)
Tricia has finally decided to move on with her life and get Danny, her missing Husband of seven years declared legally dead. At the same time her sister Callie decides to visit, Tricia begins to see strange nightmare'ish visions of her husband.

Whilst the heavily pregnant Tricia (a plot point I won't reveal) works during the day, Callie seems to go on endless runs. Near their house is a underpass which goes under the freeway and for some strange reason Callie seems drawn to it especially after seeing a weird looking homeless man there.

Sorry everybody, that's all I am going to reveal with regards to the film's narrative. Suffice to say the film takes you in all kinds of directions and very cleverly pulls you in. When you think you have got it worked out, something else happens and you are back to square one.

The film has picked up all sorts of awards and is thoughly deserving of them. Its a horror film with no blood or guts, just subtle effects and a brilliantly designed soundscape. The music by Ryan David Leack is a very eerie and reminds me of early John Carpenter scores such as The Fog. Acting wise, the performances are good especially Katie Parker as Callie and its a real pleasure to see Doug (Hellboy) Jones in a small role.

Writer/Director Mike Flanagan appears to be a very talented fellow and I look forward to seeing his next film, Scare Dares. Absentia is a breath of fresh air and honestly I can't recommend it highly enough.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A genuinely enjoyable budget horror, 14 Oct 2013
By 
This review is from: Absentia [DVD] (DVD)
As others have said, the cover is misleading, but don't let that put you off. If you are after a more thought provoking and creepy movie then give this a go. I bought it speculatively after reading all the reviews (see **) and really enjoyed it. Apart from the excellent acting, what really stuck with me was the backing soundtrack. Really gave some atmosphere to it.
No real quibbles, the very last shot of the film is rather unnecessary but that's such a minor point - this film is worth an hour and a half of your time.

** Oh, and this wasn't bought off Amazon, bizarrely it was in PoundLand, so a real bargain for a quid!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars What's bugging you?, 31 July 2013
By 
bernie "xyzzy" (Arlington, Texas) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Absentia [DVD] [2011] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] (DVD)
It has now been seven years since Tricia's (Courtney Bell) husband is disappeared. She is about to declare him dead in absentia. Her prodigal sister has returned from who knows where to help her get over this difficult time. Other people are also trying to help her such as the detective that is looking into the case and a psychiatrist. It seems that she's seeing her missing husband everywhere yet he is nowhere.

Her sister Callie (Katie Parker) suspects otherworldly influences. And it does not take us as viewers to agree. However there seems to be a normal (but stretching it) explanation for everything.

The thing that makes this film spooky is Steven King type plot that as always borders on the normal, the abnormal, and slides ever so slightly into the supernatural. Other people have seen a tad of H.P. Lovecraft. Writer and director Mike Flanagan carry this to the next level. After waiting the movie you may be more cognizant of your surroundings.

Be sure to listen to the tense background music that plays one of the actors without covering up the dialog.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Total Absentia of the usual red herrings that equal horror cheat-so grab it before it DOES go missing!, 27 Jan 2013
This review is from: Absentia [DVD] (DVD)
Sometimes the perfunctory exaltations that come with any little-known horror film are enough to make one often justifably dubious in the extreme as to even half of it living up to those glowing revelations, especially as time-wasting cheats that range from boringly mundane to utterly hateful are scrolled out every year ('Silent House', 'Them', 'Dead End', 'Session 9', 'R.S.V.P', and 'The Village' being just a few of the worst offerings to really disappoint), but for the first time in an absolute age, a modest little horror rises from almost nothing to bask worthily in those claims.

In fact this excellent little chiller, pretty much with us only through online funding, guarantees total immersion through to unerring understanding of everything needed to make a classic, yet contemporary horror: a slow-building weaving of a very human story of loss, commited performances by a really strong cast of unknowns, an evergrowing sense of dread around most scenes, liberal use of sharp shocks that do actually scare, sparse gore still powerful enough to recoil from, and perhaps the biggest coupe; it's actual directorial style, registering more as a crime-scene episode centring on the bereaved that has to now declare her mysteriously evaporated husband legally dead so she can now move on with life, than the usual high-gloss affectations of mainstream horror. Super top marks to the astoundingly able Mike Flanagan who not only shot this beauty, but wrote and edited it too, and while it may be obvious he's just getting started, he's way ahead of the crowd on this evidence, and we can ony hope it's the truly grand glint of a bright new horror light.

To go into any more detail about the film would completely undo the hard work all involved with the project so consumately endeavoured, but I'll just warn the easily let-down not to harshly dismiss it instantly on the two things the churlish would pick out at once, namely that it's slow-moving (actually it isn't, it just doesn't have the MTV masked killer theatricals and fake scares every ten minutes, as it's too busy rewarding the viewer for the time invested in the main characters' awful dilemmas, and with an all-prevading air of constant unease); the second ominous sniff would be that where the movie ends up doesn't justify the hard work it built to get there. Wrong! The answer is horrible, in a good way, just let in soak in. Even for the unconvinced, there's no way it shatters all that comes before it, in the way that say last year's 'Sinister' did. Personally, as there is no worse crime in horror-making today than the completely falsely-advertised, bear-baiting, red herring littered fakes that whip away all layering in conclusion of the loathsome belief a serial killer or asbo-brat stretched out bulletin consitutes modern adult horror, the fact this so easily could have been another and most assuredly wasn't, only strengthens my view that is the must-see the lushly quoted cover make out, though I would ignore the cover art somewhat as it's misleading. Or is it, seeing as the film (perhaps accidentally, perhaps not) expounds on the theory of the radical, perhaps wildly illogical explanations for a disappearance being out of favour for the more logical. A sound commentary on most so-called horror creations today I'd say.

But whatever displeasures cynics will coax from themselves when the nasty tunnel underpass connecting the suburban neighbourhood street to the local park over the freeway finally proffers its guilty secrets from within into daylight, it still can't deflect a talent so astounding at supsense building that Mike Flanagan somehow makes a very ordinary setting attain such auspicious proclivities with every new angle, every lingering shot (it's not immediate how nastily creepy the wife's apartment looks from outside in the actual sunshine!), even with something so simple as a character thumping their backpack on the floor. Give this man a three picture deal now!

To the writer-director, to the astute and heartbreakingly raw acting of Courtney Bell as the virtual widow, and Katie Parker as her supportive ex-druggie sister, and even to the bit-player police presence on hand over several disappearances, I salute you all. And may your creativity never turn up missing!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Slow, but very atmospheric, 23 Nov 2012
This review is from: Absentia [DVD] (DVD)
Absentia is low budget. That's the first thing you should know. It has no big name actors in it and was financed by an online campaign. This could have been a recipe for disaster, but, I'm glad to say the writer/director pulled it off.

The film is about two sisters who investigate the disappearance of one of their husbands and find it may be connected to a mysterious (and sinister) tunnel nearby.

In some ways the film plays out pretty conventionally, ala the Ring, the Grudge and all those other horror films where a woman investigates something creepy, only to discover some dark supernatural force at work. However, what makes Absentia different is just how creepy the whole atmosphere is. I couldn't really put my finger on it, but it's something to do with the direction which is - deliberately - slow and focuses on strange, seemingly mundane items which helps to crank up the fear.

I mentioned that Absentia is slow. I've read other reviews where people site this as a flaw. I can see how some may view it that way. It's definitely not a gore fest, filled with wall to wall monsters and chainsaw wielding psychopaths.

It's more psychological with a healthy dose of supernatural.
Its pace (or lack of, as some might say) may be its drawback. I don't know if this film will ever achieve much mainstream success. I'm a big fan of David Lynch's work and this film seemed to totally remind me of his work (although it is more linier and doesn't jump around so much).

If you're not looking for a rollercoaster ride of a movie and are prepared to sit back and watch much more of a `slow burner' then this one could be for you.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Good film, 6 Nov 2013
By 
Patricia Irene Higham (united kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Absentia [DVD] (DVD)
Great story and well acted; like other people have mentioned, the background noise is annoying. Apart from that I loved it. Very creepy!!!!
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