Absentia DVD Review

It’s refreshing when the horror genre tries something new, like meeting an old friend after being apart for some time and catching up with bundles of stories and a nice pint. But what if this reunion with the old friend is not as one had hoped? His stories are terrible and the pint is sour, it becomes not about a glorious rekindling of friendship but of a countdown to escape. Absentia is somewhat like the second situation, albeit a refreshing glance at the horror genre using the tale of the Billy Goats Gruff as a base for psychological horror, but the story is poor and the execution bitterly disappointing, just like the sour beer.

Tricia Riley’s (Courtney Bell) husband Daniel (Morgan Peter Brown) has been missing for 7 years and she is beginning to come to terms with the loss, she must declare him dead ‘in absentia’ so she can move on with her life. Tricia’s younger rebellious sister Callie (Katie Parker) comes to live with her to help her in this difficult period but becomes entranced with a dark tunnel near where Tricia lives while her sister is plagued with haunting visions of her presumed dead husband. There seems to be something more sinister than trauma going on.

After much perfunctory set-up dialogue the movie gets going revealing its more eerie agenda. Mike Flanagan manages to create a tone that is creepy to the core with so lovely blurred frames of Tricia moving slowly down a dark stairway and classic close up then reveal shots. This restrictive style of direction is a horror staple and is used effectively by Flanagan to add tense moments of Daniel’s spectre haunting his wife. Tricia’s dreams and visions become more gruesome implying the haunting could be more than her mental stress taking its toll.

Despite these instances of optimism it’s really a bit of an uphill struggle. The premise is set and there are some fairly spooky moments but that doesn’t make up for the sheer lifelessness of the script. The film is not edge of the seat stuff, nor is it seriously dark horror, it falls somewhere in between and disappears down the boring tunnel that is its centrepiece. When Callie begins to discuss dark matter when considering the cause of their problems, it’s time to tune out.

Absentia promises much but like the postman in winter it does not always deliver. The premise itself saves it from being another bargain bin DVD on sale in the garage for £2.99. It may be prime for a remake  down the line with a juicier script and some more striking reveals but as it stands it is a case study for nice idea, average film.


Absentia is released on DVD on the 9th July courtesy of Second Sight


About The Author

Jonathan went back to university to study Film Journalism in Glasgow in 2012 and hasn't looked back since. Writing for the Edinburgh Internation Film Festival, The Birmingham Review, The Electrolyte Magazine as well as Front Row Reviews he enjoys working across media and if not lambasting folk about politics it's film on his agenda. Working in The Electric Cinema in Birmingham has allowed him to come closer to the medium he loves, his favourite filmmaker is Wong Kar-Wai.

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