I was legitimately surprised to find out that Absentia had a budget of $70K. That’s higher than I would have expected considering that it looks like it was filmed with someone’s cell phone and sounds like everyone is ad-libbing their lines because at the last minute the scriptwriter had finals and had to dog-sit his mom’s Pomeranian and couldn’t deliver a final product. There’s exactly one person – Katie Parker, playing Callie- who comes across as an actual actress in a role for which she is receiving a paycheck that does not consist of beer or the cancellation of favors previously owed to the filmmaker.
Still, Absentia is not ineffective. Tricia (Courtney Bell), who is awfully pregnant for someone whose husband has been missing for seven years, has just put in to have him declared dead. Her flaky drug-addicted sister (Parker) shows up to give her support. Just as she’s about to move out and start a new life, however, she starts having weird, genuinely creepy visions of her husband – who seems to be displeased that she’s moving on. Meanwhile, Callie keeps having strange and unsettling things happen to her when she jogs through a spooky concrete tunnel.
This being a horror movie, she keeps jogging through it anyway, and freakish events ensue. In time it becomes clear that something is living in (or around, or below, or in an alternate dimension beside) the tunnel, and for some reason it likes to collect things – and people.
Absentia is probably never going to reach cult classic status, but it was interesting and well-done and held my attention, which is more than I can say for the four or five other horror movies I watched the first few minutes of this weekend.
So what’s the verdict? Two stars. That may be partly my own bias, because I don’t love creature features in general, but what are reviews if not expressions of subjective bias? Absentia was a pretty good movie, but not a particularly memorable one, or one I’d tell people to run out and see. If you, like me, have gone through pretty much every other horror movie on Netflix Instant that does not actually involve clowns, I feel comfortable telling you to go ahead and watch this one. You won’t be eternally grateful for the twist of fate that steered you in Absentia‘s direction, but you won’t walk away hating humanity either, and in this genre that’s something.