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ABSENTIA
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Reviewed by: Dave Murray

Directed by: Mike Flanagan

Starring:
Katie Parker
Courtney Bell
Dave Levine

Movie:  
star star star star
Extras:  
star star star
Overall:  
star star star star
What's it about
Seven years after her husband went missing, Tricia is still looking for him when her sister Callie comes to visit, hopefully to get her to finally declare him dead in absentia. But when strange things start happening both in the house and in the old tunnel down the street, the sisters come to know true horror - that Tricia's husband may be suffering a fate far worse than death, and they might be next!
Is it good movie?
I have to give major props to Mike Flanagan. I didn't know what to expect when I stuck this unassuming screener in my machine, and in no time he knocked me solidly on my ass and had me literally shaking with tension. I honestly don't think an indie movie has scared me as much, or impressed the hell out of me as much, as Absentia has. I know it sounds like high praise, but I'm at a loss to think of any recent big budget horror flick that I enjoyed more, and man was there ever a lot to enjoy here!

First off, the two leads are amazing. They kind of have to be, since the credibility of the story depends on their relationship as they are essentially carrying the whole movie. Here Flanagan scored big time, finding two women who were talented, very attractive and could handle their roles as if born to them. watching their lives unravel in the face of the narrative was fascinating, and really grounded the movie for the audience. They both give very real and personal performances, so good job! And someone make Katie Parker a star already?! She hooked me from her first scene, gorgeous and talented! So, step one, we've got great actors, what about the story, the visuals, the atmosphere of the whole sordid affair?

With step one covered, Flanagan then proceeds to doll out the tension and horror without a misstep. The story is a simple one, but it draws you in, gets you interested in the lives of the characters, and throws some seriously left field horror goodies your way. This combined with the striking visuals (shot in digital, which didn't even bother me this time, who would have thought!), and a soundtrack that built tension in me the same way that High Tension did, making me dread almost every scene that was coming (but only in the best ways) provided the bricks and mortar for what I can only describe as awesome horror. It reminded me of some of my favourite ghost flicks (like Ghost Story or The Changeling) in both tone and style, as well as some of the best of the Asian ghost movies with a little bit of the old creepy monster fun, and I was loving it. In fact, it's hard to pin this one down to any specific subgenre of horror. The quality of the visuals, and the production value as a whole, are amazing for a low budget feature, making it not only fascinating story wise, but also engaging and attractive visually as well.

This is an original movie that takes a simple story structure and brings the horror in a huge way, delivering tense and scary images and scenes like a master work in the genre, squeezing terror out of very simple setups that work because they are so antithetical to every hokey scare tactic we see in mainstream horror today. It;s not often that an indie film rocks me this hard and makes me remember it with fondness and dread, but this one did. Mike Flanagan is now most certainly on my list of "Guys That Scare The Shite Out Of Me", and I would recommend that everyone else find this movie when it is released and hopefully have the same reaction.
Video / Audio
Video: It wasn't marked on the screener, but it fits well and looks good on a 16:9 screen, so I'm guessing standard widescreen.

Audio: The audio sounded great and tense through a Dolby 5.1 setup .
The Extras
Just the excellently cut Trailer.
Last Call
Only 2 months into 2011 and I already have my first pick for my top ten horror flicks of the year! Yes, I enjoyed this spooky pseudo-monster creep fest that much. Haunting, beautiful and scary as hell, this indie film is far and above anything I've seen so far this year, and maybe even last year as well. Any indie film makers out there looking for a prime example of how to do horror the right way - check out this movie! Tension filled in almost every scene, the story drags you in, makes you care, then proceeds to scare the audience stupid with both talent and style. It makes you forget you're watching a movie shot in digital and for a mere fraction of any of the latest Hollywood horror-lite productions. This is horror with both heart and balls, a most perfect combo in my humble opinion! I'll say it again - See this movie!
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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