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ABSENCE
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Reviewed by: Andre Manseau

Directed by: Jimmy Loweree

Starring:
Erin Way
Eric Matheny
Ryan Smale
Stephanie Scholz

Movie:  
star star star star
Extras:  
star star star star
Overall:  
star star star star
What's it about
Mom-to-be Liz (Erin Wray) wakes up one morning only to find that her child has disappeared. Weird thing is, the kid wasn't even born yet. Her husband Rick (Eric Matheny) can't really help. Doctors can't explain anything. To help cope, Liz bizarrely listens to her little brother Evan (Ryan Smale)- his brilliant idea is to take his sister on a couples retreat and to film the "recovery process". Shaky footage ensues.
Is it good movie?
Absence is best summed up as a fairly lame, tame and slightly dull found footage flick. First of all, can I ask a question? When the found footage movies decide that they're going to go the "I'm a film student" route, why is it that they can't seem to film anything properly? Why does the camera quality vary from pristine to awful? How about the framing/steadiness of the camera? I'd fail this kid in a heartbeat for his complete lack of ability to actually use a camera. But I digress!

Okay, I'm not exactly done talking about Liz's foolish brother. The guy drives me crazy- does he not realize the trauma his sister's been through? He spends a lot of time running his mouth and playing ridiculous pranks. He's a huge problem and winds up being a way bigger part of the film than he has any right to be, that's for sure. So freaking obnoxious. In fact, Absence should be criticized for its absence of character development. Why is it that we spend so much time on the dopes that surround Liz instead of her emotional plight? The woman has been through a lot, and instead we're just forced to endure the men scratching their heads, not providing any insight or answers into the mystery.

The only positive props I can really dole out for Absence is that Erin Wray is trying pretty hard as Liz. Her emotional confessions on camera certainly come off as believable. Problem is that the movie doesn't really spend a lot of time on potential investigations, or a lawful presence, or any of the other procedural horror that's associated with an awful occurrence such as this. Instead, you get the same old crap that comes with found footage movies that just feels so familiar (a lot of quick cut, "look where we are right now, let me ask you a personal question" stuff).

As for the flick itself, it's just really quite dull. This one might have been better condensed to 30-40 minutes as a short film because it just doesn't have a ton of substance to it. I won't try to spoil the truth about what happened to the baby (is it a conspiracy? is it aliens? ghosts?), but chances are you're not exactly going to jump on it. There's some really stupid reactions coming from these characters once they start to get a handle on things (let's call it immediate selective amnesia-what gives?). And the ending? The true who-or-what-dunnit? Well, it's there. The truth does indeed get revealed, except you actually have to wait for the credits to roll. You really think your flick was so good that I'll sit through the credits to find out the thing you've been building towards for the whole movie!? Grr.
Video / Audio
Video: A so-so 1.78:1 widescreen transfer that gets the job done, but the source is hideous to begin with. This isn't a flick that'll show off the power of your home theatre.

Audio: English DTS-HD MA 5.1, mixed well, though again- nothing spectacular.
The Extras
A commentary track is included with director Jimmy Loweree, Ryan Smale and cinematographer Christiano Covino. It's pretty typical stuff, though from hearing them you'd think they were watching a totally different movie. Still though, they're passionate about what they do and the work they put in (interestingly enough, the movie was written in only 3 days!).

There's also a brief behind the scenes featurette which echoes a lot of the sentiments of the commentary, showing off how everyone came together to pull through a low-budget, but effective horror flick that could be enjoyed by any audience. Whether or not they succeeded is ultimately up to the viewer.

Finally, a trailer
Last Call
There's not enough explained, the movie drags on, there aren't enough scares, the culprit is only revealed in the credits, the camera is super shaky, the film focuses on the dudes useless perspective instead of that of the mother and it just feels too long. This suffers from a real absence of entertainment value.
ARROW IN THE HEAD'S RATING SYSTEM
star star star star I'D BUTCHER MY FAMILY TO SEE THIS AGAIN
star star star HANG ME BUT I DUG IT A LOT
star star AN OK WAY TO KILL TWO HOURS
star JUST SLING AN ARROW IN MY HEAD AND LET ME DIE IN PEACE

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