Ever since launching this site and working as “The Cryptkeeper” over at horror-movies.ca, I’ve had a pretty close eye on movie releases, both independent and mainstream. For months, I’ve been reading about Mike Flanagan’s Absentia, but it wasn’t until I got my hands on the UK release of the film, that I finally was able to see what all of the fuss was about.
After having been missing for seven years, Tricia (Courtney Bell) has finally filed her husband as “dead in absentia.” Her sister, Callie (Katie Parker), has come to visit to try to make this ordeal a bit more manageable. As Tricia is just coming to terms with having to move on with her life, Daniel (Morgan Peter Brown) shows up out of nowhere. Daniel doesn’t seem to have any answers, however, as to where he’s been all of these years, and after going missing for a second time, Callie starts diving deeper into what really could be happening here, tying a mysterious tunnel with the disappearance of Daniel and many others from the small town.
On the surface, Absentia is a supernatural film that plays out like a slowly paced ghost story. It does manage, however, to pull away from that, as the story progresses.
It is what Mike Flanagan manages to pull off underneath the surface, no pun intended, that really makes Absentia a movie to pay attention to. I don’t usually delve too deeply into films’ sub-plots and hidden meanings, but there really is a lot going on here and it is hard to ignore.
There are multiple relationships that are being effected by the film’s events, from the two sisters, to Tricia and Detective Mallory, to Tricia and her lost-and-found-then-lost-again husband. Different religions and belief systems are also on display. Tricia is a practicing Buddhist who uses meditation to cope, while Callie is a Christian, using the church and prayer to try to stay away from her past demons. While these things don’t really weigh heavily on the climax of the film, it is nice to see a filmmaker who isn’t doing the same thing as everybody else.
The acting does vary in this film, but for the most part, the performances are very good. I think Katie Parker did the best out of the bunch as the former drug-addict Callie who knows there is more to the story than just a few missing people.
If you’re a supporter of indie horror films and are a fan of Flanagan’s more recent work with his ‘mainstream’ release of Oculus, you should certainly check out his earlier work in Absentia. Second Sight is releasing the film on Blu-ray and DVD on July 7, so be sure to pick up a copy.
I give the film 3 silverfish out of 5.