Courtney Bell in Absentia (2011)

Tunnel of Hurt

It has been 7 years since her husband Daniel (Morgan Peter Brown) went missing and Tricia (Courtney Bell) having come to accept he won't be coming back starts to try and move on with her life. But now with it being time for Daniel to be officially declared "dead in absentia" Tricia has to build herself a new future and her younger sister Callie (Katie Parker) arrives to help her with the transition. Callie has issues of her own to confront as she is attempting to start again after years of drug abuse and visits to rehab centres, turning to religion to help her. But moving on seems to be harder than both imagine as Tricia suffers from horrific visions of Daniel whilst Callie finds herself drawn to a strange tunnel which could be connected with Daniel's disappearance and may end up being their own downfall.

Right off the bat I need to tell people to stick with "Absentia" as right from the outset it is clear that this has been made on limited funds, it has that lesser budget look which can be off putting. But whilst it lacks the shine "Absentia" also achieves things on a smaller budget that some big movies just lack and one of those is a fantastic atmosphere. It is an atmosphere which builds, which serves up strange things, mystery and keeps you guessing as to where it is all going to end up. Trust me when I say you won't be disappointed if you do stick with it.

But here is the thing as "Absentia" is one of those movies which works best for those who appreciate movie making rather than those looking for a rollercoaster ride of frights. It has those frights, it also has some surprises but it works almost on a non horror level. What I mean is that whilst we have Tricia being spooked by visions you have to ask yourself whether those visions are brought on by some subconscious aspect of feeling guilt as she is moving on from her husband by having him declared dead. There is a similar sub context to Carrie's story as in her attempts to beat drug addiction she has turned to religion but during her jogs through a tunnel she has strange encounters which might say something about her situation, I will let you judge that for yourself. So in a strange way "Absentia" is as much about the issues in moving on in your life as it is the horror.

It is unfortunate that Mike Flanagan didn't have more of a budget to play with as whilst it is impressive as to what he has achieved and "Absentia" is genuinely creepy and intriguing the fly on the wall look as if it was shot in locations during people's lunch hours lets it down.

What this all boils down to is that "Absentia" is an entertaining horror movie which is genuinely creepy but it is one of those movies which is just as impressive for what a director has achieved on limited funds even though the end product in look and pace still could have been better.