There’s just something about low-budget horror done well. We don’t expect superb acting or amazing special effects in movies that cost thousands instead of millions to make. But, we do expect good storytelling and an understanding that you can’t do everything without that blockbuster budget. My latest Netflix horror find shows that low-budget does not have to equal low quality.
Absentia tells the story of Tricia — who’s husband went missing seven years ago — and her prodigal sister Callie. Tricia’s husband is presumed dead, and not happy about Tricia’s recent pregnancy. When he starts appearing in ghostly form, we’re left to wonder whether Tricia is nuts. I won’t go into much more, lest I spoil the plot. Suffice to say, that you never fully understand everything that’s happening, and that’s a good thing.
What I really like about this film is how director Mike Flanagan didn’t go beyond his means. Low-budget movies that suck usually attempt a grander existence then they ought to. Not so with Absentia. Instead of relying on flash, the movie focuses on sound storytelling and suspense, leaving as much to the imagination as what is shown on screen. Flanagan utilizes efficient scenes, where every detail is important. This allowed him to tell a complete story in ninety minutes. How great would it be if other directors looked to shorten their movies instead of lengthening them with fluff.
The film work in Absentia is superb. At times, Flanagan uses a shaky camera, but just enough to heighten the tension. He took a run-down, suburban area and made it beautiful. It’s difficult to describe, but you’ll see what I mean when you watch the movie.
If you haven’t seen Absentia yet, put it in your queue. It’s available on instant play, V.O.D and DVD. Just understand that this isn’t a blockbuster movie. Oscar nominations are unlikely. But, if you’re looking for great storytelling mixed with mostly-competent acting, this is your movie. Enjoy.