Low budget filmmaking usually calls to mind (with some notable exceptions) poor CGI, fair to poor acting, and bland storylines we’ve seen a hundred times before. And then there’s Absentia, a movie that takes the little money it has and runs with it, creating an effectively scary, well written and well shot film that Hollywood wishes it still understood. Absentia proves that you don’t need millions of dollars to make a good movie. The movie may be cheap, but the scares sure aren’t.
It’s hard for us to review this movie, which is why we’re skipping a synopsis. We’d rather just say “Go watch this, it’s awesome!” and hope you’d believe us, mainly because we’re right. Also, we don’t want to give anything away. Here’s what we can say:
The movie’s use of focus is excellent. Seriously, it’s pretty damn amazing. This cannot be emphasized enough. Without giving too much away, there’s an actor with some simple makeup who, through the use of focus, becomes terrifying. The first encounter and a scene involving a closet are especially effective. The use of focus is such a huge help in building the tension – keeping this figure just out of focus, highlighting that it isn’t a natural part of the world. It amazed us that something so basic was made so creepy just through camera work. And it’s not just the creepy parts. The use of focus (keeping certain things in or out of focus) even in traditional scenes keeps the movie off-kilter, keeps you looking and keeps you guessing.
Just as commendable as the use of focus is the lack of stings and cheap scares. We aren’t an easy group to freak out, but there were definitely some unsettling scenes and moments that got to us. And extra points for making a difficult premise work without seeming forced. It’s an interesting take on folklore that isn’t often explored in the genre – a new spin on the missing person mystery.
Any criticisms? There is one shot of CGI that’s a little questionable, but even that isn’t fully in focus and is done pretty quickly, so it’s a minor issue at best. Really, there’s not much wrong with this movie.
Do we recommend? Umm…have you been reading this blog lately? We LOVE this movie! Get it, see it, then come back here and tell us your thoughts!
Jenny: I agree with everything Frosty says above. I just wanted to add that, along with films like Insidious and Lake Mungo, this is a perfect film for the squeamish horror fan that craves fear and atmosphere without the gore or extreme violence.
See it. See it now.