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Tricia's husband has been missing for seven years. Her younger sister Callie comes to live with her as the pressure mounts to finally declare him 'dead in absentia.' As Tricia sifts through the wreckage and tries to move on with her life, Callie finds herself drawn to an ominous tunnel near the house. As she begins to link it to other mysterious disappearances, she comes to the realization that his presumed death might be anything but 'natural.' Soon it becomes clear that the ghostly force at work in the tunnel might have set its sights on Callie and Tricia too.
One hell of a horror film! --Fangoria
Tense & Unnerving. --Dread Central
...very creepy, non-formulaic and more grounded in relatable personalities than the usual horror film... --Variety
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If a horror movie requires a huge budget, well known actors, CGI effects galore and buckets of blood and guts then stop right here and keep looking.
This movie almost feels like a home video, which of course is a result of its meager budget, but the director Mike Flanagan uses this to his advantage especially in the dimly lit scenes where some of the special effects are more effective the less you can actually see of them.
The real stars here are the people-next-door actors who bring the dread to life. The main character is very effective considering her limited acting experience. She looks like someone you might know or work with. She's no glamour queen, being rather full figured (she's also supposed to be pregnant) and plain Jane-ish and is portrayed as a very real woman who is cracking under the emotional weight of her husband returning after vanishing 7 years earlier, and having been officially declared dead "in absentia".
The tale that follows is quite shocking, with unexpected twists and turns that I must not include with out a spoiler alert.
This film is best watched late at night, preferably in bed with the LIGHTS OUT.
Forget Hollywood's version of terror and let this spooky story unfold.
The movie centers on a woman by the name of Tricia (played by a very relatable and sympathetic Courtney Bell) and her younger sister Callie (played by Catherine Parker who sort of to me at least gave off a Jennifer Lawrence vibe and was wonderful). Tricia’s husband Daniel has been missing for seven years, Tricia’s life just now starting to move on as Tricia finally moves to declare Daniel “dead in absentia.” Pregnant (the mystery of the father soon revealed but I won’t reveal it here; it isn’t Daniel, not seen in seven years), finally taking steps to move on with her life (formally be with the father of her unborn child, move out of the home she shared with Daniel), Callie has moved in to help Tricia with this process, helping her pack, file paperwork, and find a new place to live as well as reconnect with her sister, as previously Callie has had drug issues and appears to be cleaned up and ready to live a normal life now (among other things she is now Christian).
As Tricia contemplates dating the husband of her child (who very much wants her) and goes through the process of declaring Daniel dead and finding a new place to live, she starts to see nightmarish visions of Daniel that only she can see. Just a few seconds, maybe Daniel standing behind someone she is talking to or more ominously over her bed as she awakens in the middle of the night, she doesn’t know what to make of this.
At the same time, Callie is drawn to a pedestrian underpass tunnel very close to Tricia’s home. Not terribly dark or creepy (at first), it is lit, has a bit of graffiti, and is used a bit to cross under one side of the freeway to the other by Callie and others jogging or walking. However after using it a bit Callie feels something is not right with the tunnel and starts to see strange things and people and looks a bit into its history.
Also there are shots showing missing posters in the neighborhood of many, many missing pets.
Stripped of the supernatural elements, it is a well told, nicely acted, very well-grounded tale of a woman moving on with her life, of going through the last, very formal steps of declaring her missing husband dead, finding a new place to live, of getting ready for the new life inside her, and contemplating a new life with a new man. It is a bittersweet time, as these last actions put a definite end to one period of her life as she begins a new chapter.
Meanwhile Callie, having bounced around the country and been in and out of drug use, is reconnecting with her sister, acting as a stabilizing influence for her sister when in the past Tricia was the one that tried to provide some stability. Perhaps still tempted by drugs, she is trying to find positivity and stability in her faith, in exercise (jogging), and in helping her sister.
The cinematography, the lighting, the music, the acting, the quiet parts of the film, all of this was so well done and it felt real, my interest in the characters genuine.
But it is a horror movie! The supernatural aspect is on the edges of the film at first; are the visions Tricia sees real? Is Callie just in possession of an overactive imagination, prone to conspiracy theories, and/or is she back on drugs? As the film progresses yeah, some of that may be a yes, but there is something supernatural going on, something that connects the tunnel, Daniel’s disappearance, and Tricia’s visions (and the missing pets).
The film had great production values as far as sound, lighting, music, but the special effects budget, while never ever cheesy, was shall we say spartan or sparse for the supernatural elements. Wisely, the director chose the less is more approach, that the viewer fills in a lot of what is not seen but very strongly implied. There were a few scary scenes but the film, but s the film had such well grounded characters and personal situations, almost felt like a natural outgrowth of Tricia’s and Callie’s problems, that it wasn’t the sudden intrusion of a ghost say into a non-horror movie but more like another (very sinister) wrinkle to two people’s attempts to move on (Tricia to accept Daniel is gone and move on, Callie to be seen as anything other than a hallucinating drug addict and irresponsible drifter). The supernatural elements could be metaphorical or part of mental illness (something helped by the film showing one character imagining a situation and that situation being shown), all very much fitting with the trajectory of the two characters.
Or they could be a real monster. The actual supernatural element was more implied than ever seen or seriously explored but was interesting and scary.
Top international reviews
Dem ist nicht so.
Es geht um das ungeklärte Verschwinden von Menschen. Im Vordergrund steht das Verschwinden von Daniel, dem Ehemann einer der Hauptpersonen, Tricia. Eines Tages kehrt Daniel plötzlich zurück... doch er ist nicht mehr derselbe. Wieso war er so lange verschwunden? Was hat er erlebt, wo war er? Wieso kommt er plötzlich, nach Jahren ohne ein Lebenszeichen, zurück?
Der Film ist eher ruhig, auch die musikalische Untermalung ist minimal gehalten, gleichzeitig wird damit stetig Spannung aufgebaut. Es gibt einen Hauch Mythologie, ein paar gelungene Schock-Momente, Blut fließt so gut wie keines.
Ein ungewöhnlicher, gehaltvoller Film, der mir gut gefällt.
Un po' come nel film successivo, ottima costruzione del mistero e della suspense, con qualche rozzezza in più ma anche con una dose di mistero insoluto in più. Che poi il finale aperto sia una furbata per non volersi sforzare a darci una spiegazione, può anche essere, ma è interessante come tutto il mistero sia leggibile anche come un dramma psicologico e quasi allucinatorio. Comunque sia, da vedere. Niente sottotitoli in italiano