Absentia (2011)

As a huge fan of Mike Flanagan’s Oculus I figured I owed it to myself to check out his previous calling card film Abesentia. Famously funded through Kickstarter, it’s a great example of how crowdfunding can really pay off. The production value and acting talent is understandably low-key but they actually add to the film’s effectiveness. The faces in this movie don’t look like movie stars, they look like friends of the director. But as a horror movie primarily about “normal” people shook by an abnormal chain of events, it works.

Hats go off to Flanagan for crafting a simple little story that sucks you in and makes you look past any shortcomings the film may have technically. The ideas and character beats are strong enough to keep you totally engaged. There is an impressive rumble of unease simmering beneath everything, a feeling of dread and unpredictability that had me totally hooked. He takes full advantage of the limited locations; never has a seedy underpass been mined for so much terror.

Not only does the film deliver as a horror movie, but it makes you realise it’s now more possible than ever to get out there with a camera and tell stories. While it doesn’t share Oculus‘s budget or structural ambition, you can see the promise of the filmmaker in every twist and turn. A superb little example of mind-over-money filmmaking. So solid I watched it twice.

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