Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Film Review: Absence (2013)

Absence (Review)
United States/2013
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No
A 31 Days of Halloween Special Review!*

"...plays out like a set of family vacation videos..."

After her unborn baby mysteriously vanishes 7 months into pregnancy, Liz (Erin Way), her husband Rick (Eric Matheny), and brother Evan (Ryan Smale) go to a cabin in the woods for a therapeutic vacation.

Absence is a found-footage horror film. One could say story is absent in this bland film, so there really isn't much to discuss on this matter. You see, Absence plays out like a set of family vacation videos; the trio have BBQs, go shopping, tell stories, go swimming, relax in the hot tub, meet new people, sleep and so on; the story rarely delves into its interesting premise as there are only two or so discussions that revolve around the disappearance. So, for the first hour you watch the trio of characters vacation -- a trio of characters that lack genuine character and depth since they seem like clones of characters from other found-footage films. The final act does little to redeem the boring first hour, and slips further into found-footage clich├ęs. Expect an unfulfilling, hectic ending to top this off.

This is a horror movie, right? I'm all for slow-burning, horror/drama hybrids -- in fact, I love films like Bug and The Exorcist -- but this film simply lacks terror. The atmosphere is nonexistent, there is no suspense, there aren't any jump-scares, and there is a lack of visual stimulants. There are 2 fakeout jump-scares in the first hour, but that's it -- and I genuinely mean that. Regardless of the type of horror you like, whether it be slow-burners or jump-scare galleries, Absence lacks it from beginning to end. This, along with the lack of story, makes this a pointless venture. Absence is a legitimate bore, despite its promising premise; it just so hollow and wasteful.

The acting is okay. Erin Way was good, although she occasionally overacts. Eric Matheny is also solid. Ryan Smale delivers a mostly believable performance. However, due to the lack of character, there isn't much depth in their performances, either, they're basically playing every other found-footage character. The camerawork is often sloppy and over-the-top -- I'm sure there are some capable people out there that can handle a camera normally, despite being amateurs. Jimmy Loweree lacks direction in his vision, and also fails to direct and write this film. The first two acts are a failed attempt at creating characters, essentially a massive detour to a weak, generic ending.

Overall, Absence is a pointless film; the drama is poorly developed, and there isn't a single fright to be found -- no atmosphere, no suspense, no jump-scares, no visuals, no creativity, etc. This is a potentially interesting short film unnecessarily prolonged to feature length -- a set of vacation videos without purpose, and an ending that lacks closure. Don't bother with this film unless you're a die-hard fan of the genre; even then, be weary and stream or rent before purchasing.

Score: 2/10
Parental Guide: Some violence and blood.

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