Friday, December 6, 2013

329 Days 'til Halloween...

Scare o' the Day!

Friday Night Thriller Theater

Every Friday, I recommend a movie that can be streamed from Netflix!


This week, I watched Mike Flanagan's exceptional 2011 indie horror offering, Absentia!

Fans of horror cinema tend to be a bit more forgiving of bad filmmaking, especially in low-budget or independent horror productions. I have certainly watched a lot of bad scary movies, but I am usually able to find some redeeming qualities in even the worst film to keep me coming back for more. It is a rare treasure, then, when one finds an extremely low-budget independent horror title that is a truly superior work. Such is the case with Mike Flanagan's Absentia.

Absentia begins at the end of a long and emotionally harrowing journey for a pregnant woman named Tricia. Tricia's husband Daniel had gone missing without a trace nearly seven years earlier. Now, the final paperwork has come through for Tricia to have Daniel legally declared deceased in absentia. Her sister Callie, a young woman in recovery from substance addiction, has come to Los Angeles to help Tricia finally close the door on this sad chapter in her life. But as events unfold in the film, we learn that Tricia's husband isn't the only person to go missing without a trace over the years in this neighborhood.

Could these disappearances have something to do with the creepy underpass at the end of the lane?

Don't let my lame description of Absentia dissuade you from watching this wonderful film. The events I have described here are only the tip of the proverbial iceberg. There's a bit of H.P. Lovecraft in Absentia, and the movie is as much a horror film as it is a story about the stories we tell ourselves in order to cope with trauma.

Mike Flanagan (who wrote, directed, and produced Absentia through Kickstarter crowd funding) takes his time with the pacing of the film. He establishes his characters and the mood of the piece, first. We begin to like these characters and feel for them. Courtney Bell (Tricia) and Katie Parker (Callie) give emotionally resonant performances, and Dave Levine (Detective Ryan Mallory) is especially winning as a sincere cop assigned to this baffling missing persons case. Often while watching Absentia, I was struck with the sense that I was watching real people, not actors, struggling with the devastating unfairness of unexplained loss.

Remember what I said about Lovecraft, though. There may be a monster in this movie. Insanity, death, and the fate worse than death lurk in Tricia's neighborhood... and maybe, in the underpass.

Check out the trailer below!


Running Time:  1 min: 55 sec

Absentia was such an exciting experience that I literally cannot wait to see Mike Flanagan's next picture, Oculus. Oculus is based on Flanagan's award winning horror short of the same name and stars Karen Gillan (Doctor Who) and Katee Sackhoff (Battlestar Galactica). Oculus premiered in September at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival. I have no idea when it will be coming to theaters, but I'll let you know as soon as I find out!

Until then, check out the trailer for the short film, Oculus.


Running Time:  1 min: 30 sec

And make sure to stream Absentia from Netflix, tonight!




Happy Halloween!!