Sunday, April 1, 2012

DVD Review: ABSENTIA (2010)

Region Code: 1 NTSC
Rating: R
Duration: 91 mins
Video: 16:9 Widescreen (1.78:1)
Audio: English 5.1 Dolby Digital, French 5.1 Dolby Digital
Director: Mike Flanagan
Cast: Kate Parker, Courtney Bell, Dave Levine, Morgan Peter Brown, Justin Gordon, James Flanagan

At the start of director Mike Flanagan's creepy supernatural thriller Absentia Tricia (Courtney Bell) is a woman struggling with her husband Daniel's (Morgan Peter Brown) unexplained disappearance seven years previously. Trying to move on with her life she's 0n the verge of processing paperwork declaring him 'dead in absentia' but the process proves unnerving and she's tormented by frightening visions, not helping matters she's pregnant with another man's child and racked with guilt. To help her through this emotionally difficult time her younger sister Callie (Katie Parker) comes to stay with her but she comes with her own demons, namely a history of drug abuse and homelessness.

Callie's daily jogs through the neighborhood bring her to a pedestrian walkway that runs underneath the freeway across the street, it's here that she encounters a strange spectre-like man (Doug Jones), the odd encounter is unnerving but she shakes it off, the following day she encounters a strange young man who warns her to stay away from the tunnel. Drawn to the tunnel she develops a bit of an obsession with the ominous place and learns that a rash of disappearances have occurred in and around the tunnel since the turn of the century.

No sooner has Tricia put pen to paper declaring her husband dead when he turns up outside her home in a near catatonic state, traumatized and disturbed. The sudden reappearance throws the distraught Tricia into a tailspin as she struggles to deal with the pregnancy and what Daniel's reappearance means. As she wrestles to maintain her sanity Daniel becomes a bit more coherent and confesses to Tricia's sister that he was abducted by a large insectoid creature and transported to a netherworld. At this point Callie is completely enraptured with the strangeness associated with the tunnel, she's already heard strange noises in the house and when Daniel says that there's something living in the walls she ready to believe but it may already be too late for it seems the creature wants Daniel back.
The film is low-budget but has high production standards, cinematically it looks well beyond it's means and is quite attractive. The cinematography sets a definite atmosphere which is enhanced in no small part by Ryan David Leack's hauntingly repetitive  score. The scares aren't cheap, this is a tense and chilling film that earns it's fright factor.

Absentia runs lean and strong beginning with a strong script and solid performances from the leads. The only bit of the film I felt was extraneous were the detectives whom felt forced and stereotyped, had they been excised I think it may have made for an even stronger film. Absentia is an indie creeper done right, an indie chiller that casts a haunting spell. 3.5 outta 5

DVD Special Features:
- Absentia: A Retrospective (33:15) 16:9
- Producer and Actor Commentary
- Camera Teaser Teaser (1:16) 16:9
- Deleted Scenes (5:15) 16:9
- Trailer(1:27) 16:9