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3.5 out of 5 stars50
3.5 out of 5 stars
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30 of 33 people found the following review helpful
on 4 May 2012
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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 14 July 2013
Callie (Katie Parker) and Tricia (Courtney Bell) are sisters. Callie is a former drug addict who has traveled quite a bit. She can spout off about "dark matter" and "tangential universes." Tricia's husband Daniel(Morgan Peter Brown) has been missing for seven years. She is having him declared dead in absentia. She is also pregnant (do the math) and odds on favorite the kid will be as bald as Detective Mallory (Dave Levine) the man investigating the case.

Callie comes to visit her sister as the fateful day of declaring Daniel dead has arrived. She will help her sister move on. Callie likes to jog and when she does, she passes under a tunnel located under the highway. As she does, odd things start to happen. Like a good horror/mystery/thriller it starts out slow and builds up.

There are a few negatives on this film, first and foremost was the soundtrack. It was second tier all the way, especially during those sad scenes which ran way too long. There were a number of times I thought Courtney Bell forgot what role she was playing. And the third thing was the boom mike visible in the upper right hand corner in a midway scene that involves Callie walking into the bathroom. While the actual image on the DVD cover did not appear in this feature it was thematically correct.

Since the DVD box didn't say anything more about the plot, I won't spoil it because it is worth a view. If you enjoy odd missing persons films, you might like, "Yellow Brick Road" which I though was superior to this story.

F-bombs, no sex or nudity.
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37 of 42 people found the following review helpful
on 4 May 2012
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon 18 October 2015
Written and directed by Mike Flanagan, Absentia finds Tricia (Courtney Bell) and Callie (Katie Parker) as two sisters who come to believe that the underpass nearby could be linked to the many disappearances in the area.

A slow burn indie horror is not everybody's idea of a good time, but Flanagan has crafted a smart atmospheric chiller, one with a nifty fairy tale fantasy bubbling away under the surface. Narratively it's low-key, though the air of grief and terror is palpable. The setting is a low rent area of Los Angeles, a place where the girls are told to always keep the doors locked, with the ominous underpass haunting the edges of every other frame.

Flanagan filters his story through the urban locale while populating it with characters who are haunted by something unseen, or by others who are troubled by personal issues (Tricia's husband disappeared 7 years ago and Callie is fighting a needle habit). The formula scares are kept to a minimum, Flanagan choosing to imbue the story with a sense of dread, toying with the sisters and us the viewers that there just may be something truly awful lurking just out of the eye line.

This is not a creature feature, like The Relic or Mimic, this is a different horror film to those. The horrors are born out of what you don't see, or what you barely glimpse, just like the classic horrors of yesteryear, with Flanagan cheekily dangling ambiguity into the bargain. It's unnerving and sad, creepy yet cunning, and a refreshing experience for those tired of big effects driven horror movies. If you like the slow burn less is more approach, with well written human drama in the bargain? Then give this a chance. 8/10
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
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 long 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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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on 2 July 2012
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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 16 September 2014
Creepy, poignant and extremely well written. A little slow to begin but it makes up for this.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 27 September 2014
Cracking little horror film. Done on a tiny budget this knocks up some good scares and decent performances. The camera observes the action and has the feel of a found-footage film. Imagine 'Blair Witch' meets 'Ring'. Worth checking out
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 6 August 2012
Absentia is one of those rare gems which prove that a big budget is far less important than plot and cast. Watched this last night and is still whirring around in my brain, trying to make sense of its various threads. Those looking for blood and guts are going to be left wanting; there is very little in the way of in-yer-face SFX; instead it's left to a very able cast to pull-off this slow burning horror which is what they should be; horrific.

It has a real indie-feel to it (which i'm a sucker for anyway) principally as it eschews cosy convention which leaves the viewer in limbo; what will happen next? Who knows but you're sure there ain't gonna be a happy ending. It's also heavy on implications and suggestions, never spoon-feeding the viewer and leaving it open to interpretation.

The film's focus is on an eerie subway tunnel; predominantly shot in broad, sunny, daylight further accentuating the juxtaposition between the reassurance of light with the brooding and foreboding subterraenean space. It harks back to childhood; that primeval, inexplicable fear gnawing away at your brain, urging you not to venture into the abandoned warehouse; or the derelict garages; or the overgrown alleyway.

Where Absentia also works well is that hinted-at otherworld just beyond your peripheral vision; this isn't another planet, it isn't hell; it's much worse than that - the real world just tantalisingly out of reach. Other films that explore this are Hellraiser and The Dark, for instance; this fits firmly in said camp.

The largely unseen antagonist clearly has a macabre sense of humour as evidenced by the penultimate scene. Just when you think you've seen it all before, the altruistic sacrifice to save another; the film aims a kick well and truly in the groin to leave you nauseous and unsettled. The ultimate two-fingered salute to the well-tread Hollywood plot device to rescue a shred of happiness from the most hopeless scenario.

In short, a brilliant, poignant horror film which focuses on loss, absence and guilt rather than scares for scares sake.
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on 1 September 2014
There seem to be a lot of negative comments, I'm not sure why. I thought it was a genuinely creepy film that keeps you wondering. I was a bit disappointed with the ending after first watching, but after mulling the film over in my head I think the not knowing probably adds to the effectiveness. It was an interesting story which could have been developed further but I still think it worthy of 4 stars. Defiantly worth a watch.
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