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‘Absentia’ (2011) Our Friday Night Movie Pick

‘Absentia’ (2011) Our Friday Night Movie Pick

Credits

Director: Mike Flanagan
Writer: Mike Flanagan
Stars: Catherine Parker, Courtney Bell, Dave Levine

3.5

Did you love last week’s recommendation, Hush?  Well, this week I decided to go back to director, Mike Flanagan’s roots and recommend one of my favourite little indie horror movies, Absentia.

The premise here is that a woman named Tricia (Courtney Bell) has finally decided to end the search for her husband, Daniel (Morgan Peter Brown), who went missing seven years earlier. In all that time she kept looking, going door to door and putting out flyers, never losing hope but after a certain amount of time you need closure. That’s when Tricia’s sister, Callie (Katie Parker), who is a recovering addict, comes to help her get through the process. As Tricia tries to move on she starts having nightmarish visions of Daniel during the most mundane activities and it only gets more bizarre and terrifying from there.

Absentia
Absentia, 2011

The atmosphere that’s created with the effective use of sound and silence is genuinely unnerving and handled so well. The constant hum in the background and the repetitive subtle noises throughout create an air of suspense and are put to the best possible use throughout this film. It’s a true testament to great direction (Mike Flanagan) when movies have practically no budget to speak of and can still generate a tense atmosphere and really scary moments. There are so many horror movies with multi million dollar budgets that are filled with clichés and cheap scares.  That’s the mark of truly talented filmmaker; being able to create something from nothing.  Writer/director Mike Flanagan is a brilliant storyteller in that regard. The scenes with Tricia’s visions of Daniel could have been so incredibly hokey but they were surprisingly sinister and will give you chills. The scene at the 35:41 mark made the hair on the back of my neck stand up. It’s these subtle scenes and the general ambiguity of the plot that have the maximum impact.

That being said, it was the strong writing style that really carried the film.  “I wish you didn’t trade with it. It fixates.”  There’s something really powerful and fundamentally scary about the “It” characters (if you haven’t seen It Follows, I highly recommend that as well). The ambiguity and sinister nature of “It” reaches into a deep-rooted fear of the unknown. A fear of not knowing what is out there, when our time’s up and what other truths there are that we can’t understand. “It” is the scariest thing that we can imagine.

One of the other major selling points of this movie is that it features Doug Jones, one of the most talented physical actors of all time. His physical movement abilities weren’t really put to the test in this movie (until a scene near the end, which was pretty impressive) but he’s still incredibly talented. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the name, he’s Pan and the Pale Man in Pan’s Labyrinth, Abe in the Hellboy movies, and Billy in Hocus Pocus.

Overall, although this movie went straight to DVD and had next to no budget, it still has the chops to go up against big blockbusters. Mike Flanagan harnesses our fear of the unknown and keeps us questioning what’s really happening right up until the end. Watch it and then watch Hush if you haven’t already. Mike Flanagan is definitely a talent to watch.

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One Response

  1. theipc June 29, 2016