Friday, August 31, 2012

“Absentia” Movie Review

Runtime: 91 minutes
Rating: NR
Release Date: March 3, 2011

Callie (Katie Parker) arrives in town to help her sister Tricia (Courtney Bell) pack up her home. Tricia’s husband Daniel (Morgan Peter Brown) disappeared just over seven years ago, and she’s about to have him declared dead. Though Tricia claims that there isn’t anyone special in her life, she is clearly pregnant.

After going through some letters, Callie finds a notice saying that the house is about to get foreclosed on and decides to help her sister find a new place. Tricia makes a few cryptic comments about her younger sister, which let the audience know that she left nearly five years ago and just recently came back and that she experiments with drugs.

Despite her past history, Callie loves jogging. On her first trip out in the city, she passes through a long tunnel. On her way back, she sees a homeless man in the tunnel who looks dead. When the man opens his eyes, he seems shocked that she can see him and offers her some jewelry in exchange for help. Callie rushes off, but later returns to bring him food and finds that he’s gone.

When she goes home, she finds the jewelry sitting on her front steps. After taking it back to the tunnel, she sees a younger men who warns her not to leave it there, but she does anyway. That night, she finds the jewelry under her pillow and calls the cops. Tricia seems particularly close to Detective Mallory (Dave Levine) who apparently handles both B&E cases and missing persons’ cases.

The two women talk, and Callie encourages her sister to date the other man. On their first date, they walk out of the house and find Daniel standing in the street. The hospital workers treat him for malnutrition and dehydration, the police realize that he’s wearing the same clothing he wore when he disappeared. As Tricia struggles with having her husband back, Callie struggles with a dark force inside the tunnel that might want both women.

I watched “Absentia” with my roommate who also loves horror movies, and we both watched the first half of the movie with our hands practically covering our eyes. The first 45 minutes or so leading up to the return of Daniel are some of the creepiest moments I’ve seen on film in a long time. At one point, I even asked my friend why other independent filmmakers can’t make something this good.

The creepest part is Brown who does an amazing job in the first part of the movie. Tricia keeps seeing visions of her “dead” husband, finding him watching her from the corner of the bedroom when she’s trying to sleep and at other times of the day. Every time a door closes, I kept waiting for him to pop up.

Unfortunately, the rest of the movie isn’t nearly as scary. Brown does a poor job playing the actual Daniel who jumps at the slightest sound and walks around with bug eyes for the rest of the movie. It literally feels like this is two movies in one: a great ghost story in the beginning and a boring creature movie in the end. I wish “Absentia” kept the strong beginning going for the rest of the film.

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