Welcome to Day Two of my “Four Days Of Mike Flanagan Movies“! Let’s see what I thought of the thoroughly strange Absentia… Yesterday I reblogged my review of Oculus & tomorrow will be reviewing Hush. On Wednesday I’ll hopefully be reviewing his new release Ouija: Origin Of Evil (if I’ve managed to see it by then!). 🙂
Directed & Written by Mike Flanagan
Starring: Katie Parker, Courtney Bell, Dave Levine, Justin Gordon, Morgan Peter Brown, James Flanagan, Scott Graham, Doug Jones
Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A woman and her sister begin to link a mysterious tunnel to a series of disappearances, including that of her own husband.
I wasn’t crazy about Oculus, the first movie I saw of Mike Flanagan’s, so I didn’t necessarily think I’d watch another one of his films after that one. I’m glad I did, though, as I liked Absentia & Hush just fine. I’ll even admit now that I was a little hard on poor Oculus (but only a little). It had potential, though – I just thought it fell apart at the end.
Absentia was my favorite of the Flanagan films I’ve seen so far but it’s probably the most divisive. This is a real “like it or hate it” movie. The pacing is very slow & there’s no “in your face” horror or gore. It’s more about the overall mood & atmosphere of the film, which I think is done really well. It’s nice & creepy with plenty left to the viewers’ imaginations. This is the type of horror that I prefer, of the supernatural psychological variety, but I know it won’t be to everyone’s taste.
The main focus of this film is on two sisters & the mysterious disappearance of the husband of the (heavily pregnant) sister. This woman’s husband has now been missing for seven years & the start of the film sees her preparing to declare him legally dead “in absentia”. Here’s the Wikipedia definition of this legal term if you’re curious:
“A person may be legally declared dead (declared death in absentia or legal presumption of death) despite the absence of direct proof of the person’s death, such as the finding of remains (e.g., a corpse or skeleton) attributable to that person. Such a declaration is typically made when a person has been missing for an extended period of time and in the absence of any evidence that the person is still alive – or after a much shorter period but where the circumstances surrounding a person’s disappearance overwhelmingly support the belief that the person has died (e.g., an airplane crash).”
Good! That filled up a decent amount of space in this review as I honestly don’t know how to go about discussing this one. This film is a bit bizarre and, if you’re someone who likes all the blanks filled in & all questions answered, you may not appreciate it. It’s a bit like Honeymoon in that way (which I reviewed HERE a couple of weeks ago & is one of my favorite horrors I’ve reviewed for my October Horror Month this year). Honeymoon goes full-on crazy at the end, though, whereas Absentia stays pretty calm. However, I found Absentia much more unsettling.
Give Absentia a go if, like me, you prefer strange supernatural horror to gory slashers. To be honest, it sort of has a Stranger Things vibe & makes you wonder if the show’s writers saw this film first. Hmm… If you watch this, just be aware that it’s slow going and you’ll need patience. My only small complaint is that, like with Oculus, I feel like Flanagan has great short story ideas that are difficult to stretch into feature length films (a bigger problem with Oculus, which was first a short film). I liked the sisters & their relationship so that helped as I think it would be harder to get into this film if you didn’t care what would happen to them. Like most modern day horrors, though, it won’t become an all-time favorite of mine & I’m unlikely to ever watch it again but I appreciated the unique story & the film’s mood. The majority of horror movies use the same recycled stories over & over again so it’s great to see one with some originality.
My Rating: 7/10