30th Jun2014

‘Absentia’ Blu-ray Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Katie Parker, Courtney Bell, Dave Levine, Morgan Peter Brown, Justin Gordon | Written and Directed by Mike Flanagan

[NOTE: With the film set for a UK Blu-ray release on July 7th, here’s a reposting of my review of Absentia from its original 2012 DVD debut]

absentia-blu

Tricia’s husband Daniel has been missing for seven years. Her younger sister Callie comes to live with her and helps her find the strength to finally declare him legally dead ‘in absentia’. As Tricia tries to move on with her life she is haunted by terrifying visions while her sister finds herself drawn to an ominous tunnel near the house which is linked to other unexplained disappearances. It becomes clear the tunnel holds a dark secret, something lies in the shadows and Daniel may be suffering a fate far worse than death.

Absentia is, for all intents and purposes, a movie about loss – the loss of a loved one, the loss of control… It also deals with the dark side of life, the side of which you’d don’t always see in more mainstream Hollywood films. There’s no real happy ending here, in fact the film leaves both its story and any conclusions it could come to, to the viewer. Taking its cues, like a lot of recent horror efforts, from classic European fairytales (namely Three Billy Goats Gruff) the film plays on the typical horror stereotypes and cliches, showing the victims side of the story and their fragility in being the ones left behind rather than telling the tale from the perpetrators perspective.

What also works in Absentia‘s favour is the often unrelenting nature of the story – the supernatural aspects coming thick and fast with (again unlike others of its ilk) no cues, audible or visual, that something is about to occur – it’s edge of the seat stuff. Much like Eduardo Sanchez’s Lovely Molly, the film is open to interpretation, with the filmmakers even offering alternative theories as to just what has happened. It’s this ambiguity which makes it so interesting. That is until ambiguity is thrown out the window in the films epilogue… A blip in what is otherwise a great movie.

Absentia is an interesting movie. Part modern fairytale, part haunting melodrama, the film is one of the creepiest, yet not necessarily the scariest, films I’ve seen recently and sits up their with the aforementioned Lovely Molly as one of the best of 2012.
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Unlike the original DVD release of Absentia, the new Blu-ray from Second Sight features a plethora of special features including and audio commentary with director / producer Mike Flanagan and producers Morgan Peter Brown, Joe Wicker and Justin Gordon, a second audio commentary with director Mike Flanagan and cast members Katie Parker, Courtney Bell, Dave Levine and Doug Jones. A fantastic documentary titled ‘Absentia: A Retrospective’, and a few deleted scenes and camera test teaser.

If you’re a fan of Absentia and already have the original UK release of the film, it’s time to ditch the DVD and make the upgrade to the Blu – the picture quality is a great improvement and the inclusion of extras this time round make this an essential purchase.

Absentia is released on Blu-ray on July 7th, courtesy of Second Sight.

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