Sinister Screens

Absentia (2011) ★★½




Tricia’s husband Daniel has been missing for seven years. Her younger sister Callie comes to live with her as the pressure mounts to finally declare him ‘dead in absentia.’ As Tricia sifts through the wreckage and tries to move on with her life, Callie finds herself drawn to an ominous tunnel near the house. As she begins to link it to other mysterious disappearances, it becomes clear that Daniel’s presumed death might be anything but ‘natural.’ The ancient force at work in the tunnel might have set its sights on Callie and Tricia—and Daniel might be suffering a fate far worse than death in its grasp.


Back in college, I witnessed a rather large cockroach rolling half a cigar down the street. It was a rather rundown apartment I lived in back in those days, in the heart of downtown. When the traffic died down, late at night, these insects came to life, swarming the street. They were interesting to watch. Nothing was off limits. Cigarette butts were scavenged, discarded candy and chips were relocated. It was another world during those late-night walks back to my apartment. During the day, it was a picturesque small-town main street. At night, something altogether different.

It’s funny how movies can trigger memories you haven’t thought about in decades.

Absentia is an early film by director Mike Flanagan. Rather low budget and rough around the edges, but definitely hints of an emerging director on the rise. If you have yet to watch the Netflix mini-series, The Haunting of Hill House, it showcases the kind of talent Flanagan has become. One of the more talented horror directors working today.

As for Absentia, it’s nice to go back in time and see the progression of the director. There’s a heart and passion displayed here and it glimmers of what is to come. But it’ll remain a far inferior project to most in Flanagan’s career, a sub-par movie overall, but also awkwardly mesmerizing in an almost X-files reveal about why so many people go missing every year without explanation.

Rating: ★★½ (out of 5)

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