Uncovering Curiosities: Mike Flanagan’s ABSENTIA

Absentia is an intriguing low budget horror film that raises some interesting questions. Mike Flanagan’s film was originally funded by a Kickstarter campaign and while it might not be slick it does feature enough strong images to help it transcend its meagre origins.

The film stars Courtney Bell as a pregnant woman who has just declared her missing husband dead by abstentia. It has taken her seven years to get her life back in order but this soon falls apart when her husband mysteriously reappears. Her sister (A former drug addict played by Katie Parker) believes that the overpass tunnel at the end of the street is a gateway to evil underworld. This theory is given more credence when her husband disappears again.

A moody atmospheric piece, Absentia isn’t really jump out of your seat scary. Flanagan’s film is more of a mediative piece than a shocker, drama with supernatural undertones. This gives it a touch more class than the plethora of other low horror movies out there, and it’s easy to see why Hollywood came calling (Flannigan has helmed Oculus, Gerald’s Game, Doctor Sleep amongst others). However, as with every low budget movie, it does have its flaws. A few of the performances are lacklustre (although Bell and Parker deliver strong work), while the cinematography is a bit too bright and ‘digital’. However, Flanagan and director of photography Rustin Cerveny make up for this with some well composed shots, but you can tell that they didn’t have much money to play with.

Abesntia is never going to shake-up the horror genre, but it has some solid ideas woven through its structure to make it stand out from the crowd. It may not be much to look at in a visual sense, but you can tell that writer/director Mike Flanagan appreciates the mechanics of the genre.