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3.9 out of 5 stars
Absentia
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85 of 100 people found the following review helpful
on January 14, 2012
Seven years ago, a woman's husband goes missing. But just as she's finally ready to stop grieving and put the loss behind her, he reappears. He claims to have been trapped in some otherworldly realm for all this time, and the only explanation he has for his escape is, "It must have been sleeping."

Absentia is a wonderfully written and directed horror film. It falls squarely in the genre of quiet horror, where character, mood, and atmosphere all contribute to a sense of dread that builds throughout the film until it reaches its ultimate nightmarish payoff. In many ways, it reminded me of the fiction of Charles L. Grant and Ramsey Campbell, which -- as a horror writer myself -- is one of the highest compliments I can give. If you're looking for just another gore-fest, this isn't for you, but if you're looking for intelligent, original, truly unsettling horror, you have to check out this film. Definitely one of the best releases of 2011.
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54 of 69 people found the following review helpful
on February 7, 2012
Absentia is NOT the run-of-the-mill weekly horror release. The cover art on the box may make you think to bypass or rent this, but I urge anyone with a taste for creepy horror and H.P. Lovecraft to purchase this ASAP. I, along with so many lucky others, experienced this creepy, get-under-your-skin horror tale at a film festival and we were blown away. It's a great high concept story expertly translated with a minimal budget. The effects are terrifying at times while cast and crew deliver a nightmarish vision that may make you keep the lights on for weeks. I suggest blasting this through your audio system to get the full effect that will have you jumping out of your skin.
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37 of 47 people found the following review helpful
on February 13, 2012
This is great, quiet, character-driven horror if you dig movies like "Session 9," "The Eclipse" or the work of directors like Kiyoshi Kurosawa. It is low budget, psychological rather than explicit, and a slow burn.

If you like movies with graphic gore, T&A, movies like "Saw" or "Hostel," or anything by Rob Zombie, you will almost certainly hate this movie. It requires an adult's attention span and an appreciation for character and subtlety. Highly recommended for discerning elevated-genre fans.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on May 25, 2014
To think that this movie was filmed in just fifteen days, and on a small budget .... well, it really had the look and feel of a professional studio production. Plus, the acting was solid, as was the photography and music and editing.

Ignore the cover of the DVD with the woman being dragged away. That seems like a marketing decision to lure people in. This movie is much better than the cheesy cover suggests. They should have gone with the silhouette figure standing in the tunnel.

The premise, without spoilers: Tricia's husband Daniel disappeared seven years ago, and she is about to have him declared dead in absentia. Her sister Callie comes to stay and to help Tricia find a new apartment. Soon Tricia starts having terrifying visions, and Callie senses something eerie about the nearby tunnel.

This is just the kind of horror film that you want if you enjoy a slow build of dread (like in Brad Anderson's "Session 9"). There is this palpable feeling of melancholy throughout "Absentia" that most American horror features don't usually have. It is not a typical scary film that Hollywood puts out; it's thoughtful and it does not spoon feed to the viewer. No cheapo jump scares here, no gallons of gore. Just a thoughtful, subtle film that gets under your skin.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon November 1, 2013
After seven years, Tricia (Courtney Bell) is finally having her husband Daniel (Morgan Peter Brown) declared legally dead "in absentia." To help her cope, her wayward sister Callie (Katie Parker) moves in. Callie starts going for jogs, passing through a tunnel near the women's house. Before long, Tricia's nightmares of guilt become a little too realistic...as Callie has a few strange encounters of her own. Then events really take a turn for the macabre, and the sisters are forced to confront the nightmare that lurks so close to their home...an evil force that is growing ever more hungry...

This isn't a creature feature. This isn't a ghost story. It's almost a fable, itself based on the childhood story "Three Billy Goats Gruff." It's a tale of growing tension and psychological terror, heightened some some fantastic camerawork and editing, and earthy, realistic acting by all characters involved. (Cops who act like real cops and not mindless morons! Who would've figured?) There's practically no gore, and yet ABSENTIA manages to be wholly and thoroughly unsettling...mainly because of what you don't see. And sorry, fans of gore and monsters and things that go visibly bump in the night...you don't see a whole lot. ABSENTIA is subtle. It works itself under your skin and stays there. Writer/director Mike Flanagan is clearly a talent on the rise. ABSENTIA will never gain the popularity it deserves; just look at the cover art, which completely sells the film as something else. If you like smart horror films, that aren't afraid to let things slow down while the tension ratchets up another notch, then this is definitely a film you should check out.
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13 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on February 13, 2012
Dread Central have been hyping this film up for a while and when I saw it available from Amazon-On-Demand I decided to give it a shot. I don't mind low budget films as long as the acting is good and the story is solid. I was not disappointed in the least with this one. The slow build of the story and minimal effects were handled excellently and combined to make a very unique and pleasurable experience. Highly reccomended.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on November 1, 2012
It's easy to overpraise a film like "Absentia" for what it is not -- i.e., not torture-porn or CGI-happy drivel. What it is is a very low-key horror film built around a group of damaged, emotionally frayed people whose everyday concerns blind them to the evil presence that is mostly responsible for their wounds. The reviewer who compared the film to the short stories of Ramsey Campbell and Charles L. Grant is right on target. The people in this film have no idea they're living in a horror story, and you'd be amazed what a difference that makes. The monster is never seen fully, but the damage is causes is viewed whole, and we learn just enough about its motivations to understand that it is completely inhuman in every way but one -- its capacity for bottomless cruelty.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
I used to run through these cement underpasses long time ago. I was always scared of some drug dealer or rapist. This is where the movie sets up my fear quotient perfectly. The whole movie is creepy in a good way. I love actors/actresses I haven't seen before. I was engaged, glued to the TV and frightened. This is what I watch (the majority of) movies for. My belief was suspended - meaning crazy stuff like this, does it actually happen, could it be real? Logic competes with my alter illogical state of mind. The music is a bit repetitive but it transports you further into the movie at the same time. No it's not some main stream scary sci fi but I heavily enjoyed it. I didn't buy off Amazon but plan to in the future. It's on a competitor site.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
This is an exceptional movie. It is mysterious, has a major Lovecraftian theme (I won't say what...don't want to spoil it) and contains some fine acting. The heroine, whose name is Callie is not obnoxious as some people feel, but is visiting her sister for some pretty altruistic reasons. Her sister is pregnant and her husband has been missing seven years. The plot centers around the fact that she is in the process of having him declared legally dead and guess what? He returns with no memory of where he's been and with obvious evidence of physical abuse. In the end Callie makes the supreme altruistic gesture to save her sister from a sinister entity. Does she succeed? Watch the film. It's a brilliant indie.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on December 10, 2012
It never seizes to amaze me how small independent films on a shoestring budget can create much more tension and more atmosphere than many multi-million dollar Hollywood flicks...and this film is a good example. A very realisitic human drama at it's core, this movie offers a different explanation why and how many people disappear (and sometimes reappear) around the world on a daily basis. A tunnel and something living beneath it's walls seem to have something to do with it, now that triggers the imagination! The filmmakers seem to have remembered an often neglected truth: it's what you don't see that can scare the hell out of you.. and it's the things that remain unexplained that will stay on your mind long after the credits have rolled. Definitely recommended
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