'The Shining' has wit, visual flair and an iconic performance by Jack Nicholson. 'Ausentes,' however, has none of these things; although it does borrow from its classic forebear; to wit, a man hacking through a door and a woman running around shrieking while clutching a huge kitchen knife. Unlike Stanley Kubrick's great psychological horror film, 'Ausentes' is a work which resonates with a singular lack of genius. It is magnificently, comically awful; it makes the Spice Girls movie look like a work of vital art. 'Ausentes' is the tale of a family that moves to a gated community in the suburbs. All is to be well with the world. They will live in peace and tranquillity; they will calmly go about their business away from those mean old city streets. But no. Ariadna Gill's character Julia starts getting spooked by those things that insist on going bump in the night, by empty supermarkets and doors that close themselves; and her husband Samuel, played by Jordi Molla, switches in an instant from laid-back family man to wild-eyed permanently unshaven nutter, injecting Julia with a drug to keep her under his sudden cosh. Molla, much respected as an actor, is absolutely dreadful in this. Comic rather than menacing, he simply cannot pull off a threatening expression. He just come across as a barroom slime ball who's had one drink too many. So is there anything to redeem this film? No. The script is clunky, the plot non-existent and the cast without merit. Completely without tension and full of be scared now moments, 'Ausentes' is an exercise in how not to make a psychological thriller. It is ridiculous and overblown, but as one of the most unintentionally hilarious films of recent years it's well worth a watch.
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