Absentia is one of the most fascinating horror films in quite some time. As John Carpenter once said when talking about Halloween, the key to a good film is,
“A good story, a good story and a good story.”
No truer words spoken, as Absentia relies more on character development and its story, rather than over the top gore and violence.
The horror genre’s finest hours (and a halves) even in the modern era which has brought us the Saw‘s and Hostel‘s of this world can easily be eclipsed by something as straight forward as Paranormal Activity, a real visceral journey in pure terror.
The plot surrounds Tricia, whose husband Daniel has been missing for 7 years. She is now ready to declare him dead in ‘Absentia’.
As she begins to contemplate life without him and moving on, she begins to see visions of him as a ghost. Her sister Callie also believes something is amiss, after encountering a strange homeless man in a tunnel nearby.
Tricia tries to find a logic explanation for her visions and vivid dreams involving Dan, but she can’t seem to put the pieces together.
The key to entire concept appears to be in the tunnel, with this being a passageway to another world, possibly even another dimension. It could even be the afterlife, the plot is very much in the shadows, but as well as being fascinating it can be construed as frustrating.
Whenever it’s in shot, the tunnel appears as a claustrophobic space, and one that encompasses all within the shot, almost like the gaping mouth of a killer shark it draws in its prey and swallows them whole.
Tension is built as Callie becomes increasingly paranoid, after the man she encounters turns up dead nearby the tunnel.
Absentia seems to strike many similiarities with the recently cancelled BBC Three supernatural drama ‘The Fades’. As Tricia begins to see people who have gone missing in her visions, much the same as Paul sees the ‘fades’ in the TV show.
The real binding of the film is the relationship between Tricia and Callie, whose hurt is almost written all over them. Tricia is an estranged widow, and Callie a former drug abuser. They both carry burdens from their past, and become caught up in this bizarre situation.
Empathy is quite easy for both, as despite being binary opposites (as a lot of sisters are), they are both quite likeable.
You find yourself rooting for Tricia when she asks out one of the local policemen who are looking to close the case on Dan. You feel that maybe throughout this entire tragedy, that she might come out the other side stronger, but unfortunately they play a much bigger part in proceedings.
The finale isn’t rushed and feels poignant, and it leaves you wondering and asking questions about ‘Absentia’, which was surely the aim from the outset.