Screened at the 2011 Another Hole in the Head Film Festival.

Absentia features what might be the most stirring movie moment of 2011 — a single shot and line of dialogue so startling I gasped in simultaneous horror and delight. And that’s only one of the pleasures to be had in this stunningly assured, borderline-brilliant horror film about unspeakable things lurking in the shadows and stirring in the dark, but also about grief, and loss, and the kind of sadness that doesn’t go away. A young woman fresh out of rehab comes back to care for her sister, whose husband has finally been declared dead in absentia after seven years missing. His ghostly visage haunts his long-suffering wife — are these guilt-induced hallucinations, or something more? And meanwhile, the newcomer starts getting suspicious about the eerie tunnel near their home, where she’s accosted by an emaciated-looking man babbling about his son, and some sort of trade…

2011 has been an amazing year for low-budget horror, with Insidious, Attack the Block and Stake Land all succeeding wildly, and in different ways. ThisĀ is another gem, totally engrossing and almost unbearably tense. Director Mike Flanagan, previously unknown to me, has a genuine gift for suggesting more than he shows, and the last 45 minutes strike the perfect balance between revelation and mystery. The story doesn’t quite come together — there’s a rushed effort at exposition that might have been better left out — but I quibble: Absentia announces the arrival of a major new talent.

-- Eugene Novikov

Starring: , , , ,
Directed by:


  1. Really glad you enjoyed the film so much. Just curious, what shot are you referring to in the first sentence?

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Screening Log


Ric Roman Waugh, 2013

Score: C

Side Effects

Steven Soderbergh, 2013

Score: C+

10 Years

Jamie Linden, 2012

Score: B-

The Place Beyond the Pines

Derek Cianfrance, 2013

Score: B+

Warm Bodies

Jonathan Levine, 2013

Score: C

Beautiful Creatures

Richard LaGravanese, 2013

Score: B-

The Window

Ted Tetzlaff, 1949

Score: B+

The Chase

Arthur Ripley, 1946

Score: B

Street of Chance

Jack Hively, 1942

Score: C

The Taste of Money

Im Sang-Soo, 2013

Score: C+

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