Written and directed by Mike Flanagan, making his first recognisable transition from TV editing to feature length film, Absentia follows two sisters who connect a series of unsolved disappearances to an ominous tunnel.
Interestingly, the bulk of the budget for the movie was raised online through a website called kickstarter, where viewers can see individual creative ideas and then choose to contribute / donate to them. Apparently over 300 people contributed to the Absentia project.
The first half of the film burns slowly, the story unfolds with a delightful, soft, somber flavour and is difficult to predict. The second half continues this potent formula, and although the story progresses steadily, the action and scares aren’t really developed much more. The movie feels as it wants to be taken further, and you can almost sense the directors frustration at limiting financial constraints.
For a cast of relatively unknown actors, with only a handful of films between them, the performances are not half bad. Dave Levine who play’s Det. Mallory, didn’t quite have the emotion palette required his role, but that’s being a little over critical, for the majority of the film his acting was decent. The sound design is minimal, which for the best part, works brilliantly, building suffocating tight-wound anticipation. However, in some places it felt acutely lacking, especially in some of the jump scares, which had some excellent visuals but not the sound to accompany them.
Overall, Absentia is going to be a little slow for some, but generally, it is a wonderfully eerie and unsettling film, which fans of independent cinema will certainly enjoy. I will be very interested to see what Flanagan can do with a bigger budget.
Our Rating 6.0 / 10