Absentia (2011)

AbsentiaTricia is a woman who lives alone in a house in Glendale, California. Her husband has been missing for seven years, and the time has finally come to declare him in “dead in absentia”. This is a tough decision for Tricia, and her younger sister Callie comes to stay with her during this time. Daniel’s death certificate is being worked on, and Callie helps Tricia look for a new apartment. However, when the date for declaring him dead approaches, Tricia starts having nightmares and experiences terrifying hallucinations of him, where he appears to be angry and frustrated. Her psychologist says this all stems from the guilt she feels, but declaring him dead after all these years is still the right thing to do so she can finally move on. Callie, who is a former drug addict, tries to keep her days busy by jogging around the neighborhood, and one day she runs into a creepy tunnel where she sees a man who appears to be shocked that she can see him. He begs her to contact his son, but she assumes this man is just a confused and possibly dangerous hobo and runs off. She later comes back and leaves some food for him, but he’s not there anymore. Later, when Callie has decided to finally sign Daniel’s death certificate and get it over with, she sees a bloody and barefoot person in front of her house. When she sees that it’s Daniel, she is first a little confused as she thinks it might be yet another of her creepy hallucinations of him…but then she realizes it really is him, in flesh and blood. At the hospital, he appears to be disoriented and severely malnourished, and can only explain that he’s been “underneath”…


Absentia from 2011 is written, edited and directed by Mike Flanagan and produced by FallBack Plan Productions. It was partly funded by over 300 donors through a Kickstarter campaign, where the goal was to raise $15.000 and they ended up with $25.000 which was a bit more than one third of their final budget. Mike Flanagan has been serving several titles into the horror genre over the years, including Ouija: Origin of Evil (2016), Dr. Sleep (2019), the TV mini series The Haunting of Hill House (2018) and many more. While Absentia is one of his very earliest work, there is actually a little bit of an easter egg here where in the psychologist’s office we see the Oculus mirror on the wall, which had been previously used in Flanagan’s short Oculus: Chapter 3 – The Man With the Plan from 2006, and was later included in his feature film Oculus from 2013.


This movie is definitely a slow burner, where the mystery regarding Daniel’s disappearance and the tunnel nearby keeps you guessing and curious throughout the movie. The mood is dire and depressing, with a steady build of unease. There’s a fair amount of subtlety here, which doesn’t always work in the movie’s favour, but at other times perfectly boosts the underlying feeling of unease. Like, the small detail of seeing posters nearby the creepy tunnel of missing dogs, implying that it’s not only Daniel’s that’s gone missing in that neighborhood. The small nudge to the old children’s tale The Three Billy Goats Gruff, an old Norwegian folktale which was first published in 1844, is also a nice touch where using something from old folklore and twisting it into something else in modern time.


While Absentia is by no means any masterpiece or a must-see, it’s still a nice watch if you want something eerie and slow-paced where it’s all more about mood than substance.




Writer and director: Mike Flanagan
Country & year: USA, 2011
Actors: Katie Parker, Courtney Bell, Dave Levine, Justin Gordon, Morgan Peter Brown, Jamie Flanagan, Doug Jones, Scott Graham, Connie Ventress, Ian Gregory
IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1610996/



Vanja Ghoul




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