written and directed by Mike Flanagan
starring Katie Parker, Courtney Bell, Dave Levine, Justin Morgan, and Morgan Peter Brown
How Is It?
Low-key, atmospheric, moody, and well-made. It doesn't rush to get you anywhere, and though it can feel like it's moving a little slow here and there, it really isn't. The story is about pregnant Tricia (played by Courtney Bell) whose husband has been missing for seven years. Her prodigal sister Callie (played by Katie Parker) moves in with her for support, as the county is finally ready to declare Daniel, the missing husband, deceased. It should come as no surprise that things go awry. Rather than spectacle the film focuses on the characters, no cats jumping out of cupboards or other cheap scares. "Absentia" is a slow burn, an eerily slow but steady burn.
The acting is pretty solid all the way around. Parker and Bell have good chemistry playing the sisters, as do Levine and Gordon as the police detectives. Brown as husband Daniel, while not on-screen as much, gets to play the widest range and to great effect. There's not a lot to say on this end, really. Very human, engaging performances from all quarters.
Behind the Camera
Mike Flanagan wrote and directed. It's a tight, clean script, nuanced and interesting, as is the direction. The cinematography and editing are sharp and keep you interested, focused, and engaged throughout. No frills, though. Flanagan kept the look and feel simple and did so to great effect. The visuals complement the story and the acting, a very adept movie package. The movie has a personal, intimate feel, coupled with an uneasiness, an uncertainty and sense of things being somehow off-kilter the whole while. Economically and effectively eerie and subtly unsettling, and that's good horror.
It's a solid flick top to bottom and side to side. If you're in the market for gore and screaming and action and slashing, this one is not for you. "Absentia" is a smart movie, a very good movie indeed. Not only do I recommend it, I'm buying a copy for my personal collection.