Written & Directed by Mike Flanagan
Starring: Katie Parker, Courtney Bell and Dave Levine
After living with the reality that her husband Daniel has been missing for seven years, Tricia Riley is finally ready to declare him “Dead in Absentia.” With her sister Callie by her side for support, she is prepared to set the legal actions in motion. However, she is unprepared for the psychological challenges that lie ahead as she begins to encounter ghostly apparitions of her long lost husband. Meanwhile, young Callie begins to suspect there’s more to Daniel’s disappearance after a run in with a homeless man named Walter in an ominous tunnel near their home.
I watch a lot of horror flicks, and I find going in with low expectations allows the success stories to be that much more enjoyable. Absentia is a slow, chilling, and believable horror tale that I classify as a success. The film succeeds in delivering a supernatural story despite the limited budget. The two sisters in the film, Parker and Bell, showcase a natural, normal, and intimate relationship that tightens down the direction the film is headed. I love a slow burn when it comes to horror and Absentia isn’t quick to give up any secrets prematurely.
The film’s director, Mike Flanagan, does a wonderful job of creating skin-crawling anxiety in something as seemingly simple as a missing persons case. Add a terrifying score/sound design and you have a touching and surreal horror flick that hits you hardest when you don’t want it to. The film has some classic bait-and-switch moments designed to give the viewer a false, yet foreboding experience. Watching characters fumble through darkness or step into an ominous tunnel is unsettling if done correctly. The film isn’t going into my hall of fame, but it is a solid, well-built flick that reminds us that loss is inevitable. The dialogue can get clunky at times, but that’s no reason to count this out. Absentia is a solid horror film that delivers a subtle sense of dread and doom from beginning to end – add it to your Halloween season viewing – you’ll be glad you did.