What if one of your favorite childhood fairy tales was brought to life? Perhaps then you would see just how twisted many of them truly are. What if not only did it come to life before your very eyes – but it tore your family apart in the process? Absentia, plays out like a Lifetime original movie for the first 20 minutes – but it turns around in such away that impressed me. It’s a supernatural thriller that plays off the childrens book Three Billy Goats Gruff. The fokelore and legend that often surrounds stories like the Grimm Fairytales are woven into a pretty interesting film.
Absentia opens with our main character Tricia (Courtney Bell) hanging up missing person flyers of her husband Daniel (Morgan peter Brown) whom has been missing for 7 years. Tricia’s sister Callie (Katie Parker) shows up fresh out of rehab to stay with her. As the two sisters catch up on what has been happening in each others lives Tricia starts to see demonic ghostly figures of her missing husband.
Assuming by now her husband is dead she files for a death certificate and decides to try and move on by going on a date with one the investigators on the case. As they step out for the date a twist comes that may be considered predictable by some but with the slow methodical nature of the film I didn’t expect it.
Callie seems to go jogging for one fourth of the movie but it does serve a purpose. While on a jog she runs across a strange man in a nearby tunnel who seems to be homeless. Tattered and torn, smelly and beaten down he has a brief interaction with Callie that catches her off guard. “You can see me” the strange man says. This interaction is the bridge and shot in the arm the stories needs before things get batshit crazy.
Throughout the movie we are introduced to the supporting cast member, a tunnel that sits just a couple hundred feet from Tricia’s house. The neighborhood has experienced missing person cases for 100 years along with break-ins and missing animals. A tunnel where people and animals go missing. Are sacrifices are being made? Similar to the foreshadowing found in Three Billy Goats Gruff.
Without ruining anymore of the story lets touch on some pros and cons of the film. Let’s start with the pros. For an independent movie the acting is pretty good overall and the storyline is surprising creepy and strong. Is it over the top? Yes. Do I care? No. I was still very entertained and it is great to see an original idea that actually works. One of the cons was the score. It was overused and unnecessary most of the time. Sometimes you just have to let the scene take charge and deliver tension and scares.
We’ve saw the rise of Video On Demand in 2011 and I’m glad it took place. Because of streaming video services films such as, Absentia, were able to create a twist on an old fairy tale and show the world how lower budget films can be a sleeper success. Once again sticking it to the big studios that produced crap hand over fist most of the year – and no one likes to have crap on their hand. As far as independent “horror” films go it has to be one of the best of 2011. It is eerie, creepy and smart.