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Absentia
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Reviews & Ratings for
Absentia More at IMDbPro »

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Who's that clip-clopping through my underpass?

5/10
Author: BA_Harrison from Hampshire, England
24 June 2014

Seven years after her husband Daniel's mysterious disappearance, Tricia (Courtney Bell) finally has him declared 'Dead in Absentia', but begins to have lucid, scary visions of her missing spouse, which her shrink explains away as manifestations of guilt. Tricia is even more shocked when Daniel turns up for real—alive but malnourished and very confused. After talking to Daniel, Tricia's younger sister Callie (Katie Parker) begins to suspect that something supernatural and rather nasty lurking in a nearby freeway underpass might have been responsible for Daniel's disappearance, but being a drug user, no-one will take her seriously.

Kudos to the makers of Absentia for trying something a little different, and for successfully conjuring up a reasonable amount of creepy atmosphere on a budget, but this slow-burning low budget chiller is only a partial success, suffering from a cheap SOV aesthetic, a few weak performances (mostly from the male members of the cast), and a script that would really have benefited from a bit more polishing. My biggest gripe with the film is that there's no reasonable explanation for the ghostly apparitions of Daniel, other than to provide the film with a few scares, but the inconclusive ending is also frustrating, leaving this particular viewer more than a bit confused about what exactly was supposed to have occurred.

5.5 out of 10, but I'm not going to round it up to 6 because there were just a few too many shots of that spiderweb in the tunnel for my liking.

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An Unexpected Creepy Surprise Hit!

8/10
Author: (ikeybabe) from United States
16 June 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Excellent! I didn't know what to expect from this low budget flick, but it surprised me because this film was spooky, suspenseful and unexpected! The acting was pretty good too for people I'd never heard of before. The story was paced just right - it was slow at points, but that helped with the creepy effect. The script was so on point. The dialogue was good and the twists were excellent. I really enjoyed this. This film wasn't gory, but it didn't need to be. *SPOILER ALERT* It was character-driven with people you cared about and even the slight glimpses of the troll (you could call it that, right?) made it even more scary. I really enjoyed this scary little story.

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A shining gem, and I don't understand the trog low ratings

10/10
Author: hoytyhoyty from Australia
14 June 2014

Realistically probably a 9/10, because it's not perfect.

But with all the idiot low ratings on here it deserves the boost. When Spielberg's rubbish can pay it's way up to a 7+ rating, we need to get behind and support indie work of this quality.

This film gave me the same kind of 'shiny and new' feeling that Shane Carruth's low-budget masterpieces gave me - 'Primer' and 'Upstream Color'.

This is a thinking person's horror film, which could explain some of the trog reviews. In fact - I hesitate to call it 'horror', it's smarter than that, but I can't go into detail without spoiling so I'll leave that there. Suspense, it certainly has that in spades.

The cheaper Canon cameras it was filmed on produce clear, cinematic quality video.

The shot composition is beautiful.

The performances are solid - in a couple of places they are a little nervous and rough, but in others they are gut-wrenchingly convincing. You care about the characters (something becoming a little rare in movies these days).

The pacing is well measured - yes it's a slow story, it has a lot to say and it layers up nicely. It builds and builds and the second half is edge-of-the-seat gripping.

Ryan David Leack's music is perfect, just perfect. I'm a big fan of Boards Of Canada - or most things that Warp puts out - and the soundtrack was of their great ilk. (I liked the Beezle tracks too).

And the crucial thing is, it get's the order of priorities right:

Concept - concepts are a dime a dozen, but it has a great one.

Story - story is more important than concept, and it's a good story with some very clever throw-and-catch stuff in it. Amazing what you can achieve when you remember to hire a writer - you hearing this Hollywood? (and the idiots responsible for 'Under The Dome' - I'm looking at YOU).

Telling - telling is more important than story (and in-turn concept), and it is the TELLING of this story that is the most beautiful part:

It's gripping, it's page-turning, it's creepy, it gives you a sense of audience catharsis but at the same time you are in the scene with the characters every second.

And it stays with you.

I was so joyful to see the Kickstarter credits and not a single sign of the mark of the MAFIAA on this film.

It is (apart from Shane Carruth's work, which I mentioned above) the first of these indie productions that I have seen that would keep and trap a full-sized cinema-chain audience, no problem. There must be others of this quality out there, either published, struggling to get published, or in production.

Hollywood may not yet be burning, but I can smell smoke...

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Such a great cinematography using only DSLR cameras

7/10
Author: Ahmad Askar from United States
26 May 2014

In Absentia, Dir. Mike Flanagan, we finally watch a film with as little horror clichés as possible, no non-sense scares and jumps just for the purpose of scaring the viewer, everything makes sense with the scenes. What was absolutely amazing to me is that they used a Canon 5d Mark II and a canon T2i to shoot the entire film, and only used Final Cut Pro 7 for post production, it gives the students of film encouragement and willingness to go forward and start their own creative projects, whether it be in script writing, directing, shooting, editing, etc.

It is not unexpected for the film creators to be using the tools they were using (which they used amazingly) after all the film is a low- budget film which Dir. Mike Flanagan pulled off in a great way that it makes it hard to differentiate between the overall quality of his film and the overall quality of the Netflix originals for example.

Lastly, this film is worth watching because it is a well written film that will grab the attention of the average movie-watcher, also it is well directed and the cinematography in it is well done that it will grab the attention of student filmmakers and film-making fans in general.

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Interesting Story that lacked a tighter rein on the script and direction

5/10
Author: Murli from Bermuda
25 September 2012

Had Absentia been handled better the rating would have been a lot higher and number discussion boards created on the aspects of the story. Instead it was a loose hodgepodge mess that highlighted the B movie quality to the storyline.

The movie left me slightly irritated because there were so many questions that went unanswered. Even if it was run on a low budget there was no excuse for not elaborating on the eeriness of the movie. Some of the chills were done well, and without any annoying loud music that a lot of the "A" horror movies employ. Sure, one or two of them you could sense was coming but even when it happened it caused me to jump slightly and I was impressed. But these are few and far in between. Most of the time the movie plods on aimlessly. There's a bleak tone to the movie that's well maintained and while it doesn't go into a Hollywood type ending I certainly was hoping for something better.

The performances are not especially mesmerizing. The two lead girls are adequate but their interaction felt more like that of two best friends rather than sisters. The detectives were useless, especially the one with the glasses. But that's because of the poor character development, direction and the story. Which makes it the director's fault.

If this had been delivered into the hands of a more seasoned director and the story tightened to allow more development on the creepiness of the story it would have been a classic. While I recommend the movie, I do so grudgingly. It's slow and frustrating and the end will leave you shaking your head.

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Effectively creepy

6/10
Author: thelittleother from United Kingdom
9 August 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is a bit of an oddly-paced one, which seems to have foxed some viewers. It mostly broods along as a character-based story about loss and grief but just occasionally goes mental.

There are a few problems. As has been pointed out, when Katie Parker's character attempts to "explain" what's going on the result is laughable. I took it that that was intended, since she actually doesn't know what's going on and her reliability's questionable right the way through, but if it's supposed to be "the big reveal" then it does suck.

There are a few generic visual things that we've seen before, but I honestly think that's OK. We see little of the antagonist but still, maybe, a bit too much.

By far the biggest gaffe is the final scene, lasting only a few seconds, which manages to dispel most of the delicious ambiguity that had been so carefully built up and open up a couple of unsatisfying plot holes. Just before I was almost shouting at the screen "It's over, end the film now, don't blow it"... but they did.

Yet I don't remember the last time I was so creeped-out by the atmosphere of a movie, and if you don't know much about it going in it's not at all easy to guess how it's going to go play out. As others have said, the drone-based soundtrack is very effective. Without that final scene I would be giving it 8/10. As it is, this is a folklore-inflected campfire story with grown-up human feelings at its heart.

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Creepy

6/10
Author: starsteamer from United Kingdom
31 July 2012

A creepy, atmospheric horror movie that holds the attention throughout. The characterisation is completely engaging creating vulnerable and interesting protagonists. The plot and the setting deals with our primordial fears of tight and underground spaces. The theme of missing loved ones is dealt with in a realistic and emotionally evoking manner. Yes, there is a part of the film that borders on the ridiculous but not enough to damage the movie as a whole. Absentia is not a jump out of your seat movie, nor is it a gore-fest. However, it is an enjoyable, spooky piece that takes you along for the ride and am sure will be something that will replay the next time I walk through an underground tunnel...

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

9 stars (+ learn how to rate movies)

Author: patchesalseier from USA
17 October 2013

Most people have no how to properly rate a movie. Most will rate a movie based solely upon their own taste, and then against what they would consider to be the best movie they have ever seen. That best movie (which is probably also their favorite) had a big name director, movie stars and multi-hundred-million dollar budget, too (see how these same reviewers rated Avatar). So how could a little independent movie costing, maybe, $200,000 ever compete with the likes of that? In their mind, no movie of such small caliber could ever achieve above a 5 or 6 star rating compared to their favorite.

But movies should not stand shoulder to shoulder like that. I've been fortunate enough to see a couple hundred small, independent movies and perhaps close to a thousand major motion pictures in my lifetime. I can compare the major ones, and even do so by genre, which is how they should be rated. The small ones should also be compared to one another, and according to genre. If a film has presented: First--a unique idea or concept, and Second--in a convincing and well-thought-out way, with Third--some emotional impact, using Fourth--good direction, Fifth--appropriate and we'll-executed cinematography (including effects) and sound direction with Fifth--decent acting, then it has succeeded at close to its highest level in its category.

Absentia deserves an eight or a nine for these reasons. If you're looking for an original idea executed by a new face that represents a name "to look out for" in the future, then you've come to the right movie. Absentia does not deserve the ludicrous "5.6" rating it seems to have garnered. Sometimes people will love a movie and be prepared to rate it very high, but then don't like how it ends--though it's entirely appropriate, so they decide to hate on it instead. Please don't do that. Uninformed and lazy movie-goers who decide to write reviews end up destroying the perfectly good name of a movie, and Absentia is such a one.

Please support genuinely good, independent, original, well-directed, low budget, well- acted films like Absentia. It left me with a chill down my spine and an aversion to travel through any foot-tunnels any time soon. Look for this director's name to come to a big screen near your in the near future; he is becoming what Shyamalan was meant to be.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Good indy horror film! Acting gets high marks!

7/10
Author: deacon_blues-3 from United States
23 July 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Very nicely done! Acting by the principles is wonderful and compelling. Parker and Bell are both impressive and very touching as the tormented sisters. Bell, especially may be the talent heiress to Kathy Bates. I would like to see her in more high profile roles. The film has a wonderful atmosphere and a well-sustained tension factor. Doug Jones is a definite asset as usual, with his incomparable long, tall, and creepy presence. It's always nice to see that quality indy films are still being made, especially in the horror genre. I especially appreciate how the film brings off sustained creature dread without ever showing us the creature itself. This has become a lost art in cinema since the advent of high tech FX. The unseen is always more scary. I look forward to future works from this crew. They all did a great job on a low budget.

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2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Michael Flanagan's next movie might be worth watching if he has a much bigger budget.

6/10
Author: suite92 from SoCal, USA
25 September 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Callie moves back with Tricia, who lives in a burglary prone area of Glendale, CA, USA.

Tricia is pregnant, and aiming to move, but not quite getting there.

Tricia is moving to get her missing husband declared legally dead after seven years. A lawyer and Ryan help her with this. Callie helps push.

While those factors are in play, Callie has been out running; she often goes through a tunnel under the freeway. She has some odd encounters there. About the same time, Tricia starts hallucinating her dead husband's presence. Her shrink helps her deal with this. After (probably stolen) objects are dumped on the welcome mat, Callie returns them to the tunnel. Later, she finds twice as much in her futon. The women discuss this with the police.

Callie and Tricia find another place; Tricia starts dating her baby's father, Ryan, openly.

As the first date was about to start, Daniel shows up. Ryan sees him, Callie sees him, Tricia sees him.

The police and the hospital figure out that he has been eating animals, including bones. His memory is shot. Callie tries to connect with him, as does Ryan. Tricia, of course, is hurricane level angry. Ryan makes his case as a better mate than the current version of Daniel--the death certificate is accurate, metaphorically speaking.

Daniel speaks with Callie, describing the monster that enslaved him for years. Daniel tells her that he wished that Callie had not bartered with it (the food, the trinkets she returned) since the monster fixates. Then wham, the monster takes him back and drags him into the tunnel, and absorbs him into the wall.

Unfortunately, while this happened, Callie was high, and the police noticed it, as did Tricia.

The last half hour is about dealing with Daniel being gone again. The energy for the search is heightened by the existence of other missing persons cases associated with the same tunnel. Callie helps highlight this, but faces rough sledding convincing anyone. Tricia has to deal with Daniel's parents. The cops get a little traction in the matter, but not a whole lot.

Scores--- Cinematography: 7/10 The camera work is often top notch. At other times, it is just bush league, so I assume this is a (bad) conscious choice.

Sound: 8/10 Fairly good. Seldom drops out. The background sounds are sometimes irritating.

Acting: 7/10 Reasonably good. The two women leads were much better than I expected, and I liked the actors who played the two detectives.

Screenplay: 8/10 Has a beginning, middle, and an end. I had no problems with exposition of motivation. The technical scores point to a four out of five rating, but the film has no significance for me. I read about 20 reviews of it, by people who clearly watched the same movie I did. There tended to be a lot of energy in the reviews from those who gave it high ratings and from those who gave it low. I could not agree with either group; it's just not that interesting.

Special Effects: 7/10 Not very many of them, which a low budget necessitates. No spectacular gaffes that I noticed.

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