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Tricia's husband Daniel has been missing for seven years. Her younger sister Callie comes to live with her as the pressure mounts to finally declare him 'dead in absentia.' As Tricia sifts through the wreckage and tries to move on with her life, Callie finds herself drawn to an ominous tunnel near the house. As she begins to link it to other mysterious disappearances, it becomes clear that Daniel's presumed death might be anything but 'natural.' The ancient force at work in the tunnel might have set its sights on Callie and Tricia ... and Daniel might be suffering a fate far worse than death in its grasp. Written by
After hearing our good friend James DePaolo over at CinemaHeadCheese.com giving this some damn good comments, I figured it would be something worth checking out. I've been in need of a good horror movie to really get into my head, and one from 2011 couldn't sound any better. "Absentia" is that movie. It's one of the movies I will remember 10 months from now when I start making my "Best of 2011" list. The year has just started, but if the past years have taught me anything, it is that great movies are rare.
The movie takes its time to explain the background story to you early in the movie by having our lead character, Tricia, put up missing person posters. Gradually from that, we also find out that he has been gone for 7 years. And then we have Callie, her sister. Callie moved away 5 years ago but has just gotten back in town and is gonna live with Tricia. Tricia has just accepted that her husband is actually gone and won't be coming back, when she all of the sudden starts seeing him everywhere. A therapist explains this to her by saying that it's her mind processing the acceptance. But when Callie is out jogging one day, she meets a strange man in a tunnel who she later finds out is another missing person. One of many in the neighborhood.
There is a lot going on in the movie, but it always takes the time to make sure you follow the events. Even though many things are unexplained and hard to grasp, it's so perfectly thought-out that you never feel cheated, instead you keep your mind working constantly to connect everything. And this is what makes the movie so great, there are so many levels of things. By the time the movie ended I couldn't even decide what I thought was going on in the movie, I literally had three different solutions to the whole film. Which one is the right one, I don't know. And I don't care, I love it this way.
It's a movie that works in the most simple of ways, and it never goes over-the-top. Unlike most supernatural / psychological horror movies out there this works strictly with the atmosphere, the story, the mood and the emotions, and it couldn't possibly do a better job. The actors are all terrific and they all help us sell this story.
If I had to be really picky about something it would have to be some of the jump scares. Not because they are jump scares (which we all know are cheap ways to scare), because they are carefully placed and all that, but the sound is often what sells them and here they weren't as effective as they could've been. But it gives the scares a more subtle tone which helps building the atmosphere yet again, so it's really a double-edged sword.
"Absentia" is an important movie, it shows what good thinking can do compared to good effects. It puts you into the misery of our characters and has you constantly trying to figure out what is really going on. There was not a second of this movie that I thought dragged on, even though things sometimes move slowly. There is nothing better than a slow movie that really has you hooked, because only then can it really get you to feel and care for the characters, and "Absentia" manages to do just that. A must see!
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