Reviewed by: Andre Manseau
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
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
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.
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
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.