AbsentiaIt’s not often a film comes out where all the pieces fall into place.

And upon first impression, Absentia is one of those films. However like it’s namesake, it loses itself somewhere in the middle and never really comes round again.

Perhaps this is not to be grumbled at as it could be argued that this observation is all part and parcel of the filmmakers vision.

Marketed very much like a horror film, Absentia is more of an assured study on the effects of loss and how it can affect people, relationships and personal beliefs.

Telling the story of Tricia and her younger sister Callie, Tricia’s husband Daniel has been missing for several years and is on the verge of being declared “dead in absentia”. Callie has been traveling since before Daniel disappeared and she has returned to help her sister through the proceedings.

As the story unravels, things take a turn for the sinister. Callie finds herself drawn to an ominous tunnel near their house and Tricia starts to have disturbing visions of her missing husband attacking and harassing her.

Funded by donations on Kickstarter.com and shot mostly on digital SLR’s, the filmmakers do a great job in upping the tension in the film.

There are no big special effect’s shots here, so the scares are dependent on practical effects, along with a few minimal computer visuals and some very clever editing. Not to mention some amazing sound design.

The cinematography is solid enough, featuring plenty of handheld shots and while it’s clear the film was shot on some DSLR’s, this oddly lends to the stories favour and gives the film quite an intimate feeling.

Speaking of which the acting is pretty solid, with some particularly impressive and assured turns from the two female leads played by Kate Parker and Courtney Bell.

A special mention must also go to Ryan David Leack, whose score elevates the film’s tension with it’s minimalist synths, piano keys, ambience and beats.

Where the film does stumble is during the third act. After some impressive plot twists, the story slightly buckles and offers very little answers to the viewer as to why events have a happened. While the solution to several plot strands is hinted at, they are never fully tied up and it’s very much up to viewer to decipher what elements of story meant.

Perhaps this is a good thing, as it certainly keeps the mind busy after the initial viewing and while certain plot strands are left unresolved, I didn’t feel shortchanged after watching it.

Despite what the marketing of the movie may have you believe, Absentia is more than just a bog standard, low budget horror film. It’s actually a confident and unrelenting look at loss.

It’ll be interesting to see where writer and director Mike Flanagan goes from here.

About The Author

Colin lives in south west London. Looks like a hobbit and has been watching films ever since he saw Return of the Jedi at the age of 3. You can follow Colin on Twitter @obicolkenobi.