Absenia is a 2011 horror / supernatural film written and directed by Mike Flanagan. It is a low budget film who’s principal photography was funded by way of the film’s project page on crowd funding website Kickstarter. Shot on and looking every bit as a low budget indie film, the movie stars Katie Parker & Courtney Bell.
Tricia has been searching for her missing husband Daniel for the past 7 years with no luck. Now pregnant after a brief affair, she is about to declare her husband as deceased in absentia and with the help of her younger sister Callie, is going to move into a new apartment before the baby is due. As the date to get the papers declaring Daniel official dead looms, Tricia starts to have hallucinations of her husband and horrifying dreams, which her therapist deems as being a natural reaction. Callie, a former drug addict who has traveled throughout the states during the past few years, is now a converted Christian. On one of her daily morning runs she sees a very gaunt man, who is surprised that she can see him, in the tunnels near Tricia’s house. He begs her to contact his son, but she runs off; later, she returns with food and leaves it in the tunnel.
The next day Callie finds some metal objects left at the door and believing the gaunt man must have left it goes to the entrance of the tunnel and leaves it there. A young man comes up with a trash bag and tells her not to do so and leaves his bag at the entrance. At night Callie finds the metal objects on her bed and the two sisters call the cops. Detective Mallory, who has been investigating Daniel’s experience, responds to the call and chastises them for leaving the door unlocked in a dangerous neighborhood. Callie secretly relapses into drug use, and Tricia signs the death certificate. As part of her acceptance Tricia, on Callie’s urging, steps out on a date with Mallory, who seems to have developed affections for Tricia but as they leave the house, a bloody and barefoot Daniel suddenly appears in front of their apartment and collapses. At the hospital Daniel is diagnosed as severely malnourished, dehydrated, and physically abused but has no recollection of where he has been. Detectives Mallory & partner, Detective Lonergan, attempt to interrogate Daniel, but he does not respond. Later, Tricia breaks down and hits Daniel, begging him to explain his disappearance, but he still does not respond. Mallory comes by, and he and Tricia talk in in his car. Mallory pledges his devotion to her, and they share a kiss.
At the same time Daniel appears in Callie’s room and tells her that she has made a trade with an insectoid creature that resides in the walls of the tunnels. They are both attacked by a creature and Callie sees it drag Daniel down to the basement and through solid walls. Callie tries to convince the cops & Tricia about what she saw but her drug use makes them doubt her claims. Tricia finds her stash and accuses her of hallucinating and claims that Daniel must have ran away again on seeing her & Mallory together. Callie does some research on the internet and shows Tricia several instances over the years of people missing in that area, including Walter Lambert, the man she saw in the tunnel, whose son claims that he was taken by monsters. After Daniel’s parents are informed of his disappearance Lambart’s bloodied body is found at the entrance to the tunnels and the man Callie saw earlier is revealed to be his son, Jamie. The police accuse Jamie of kidnapping local pets, and he implies that he has been offering them as sacrifices to recover his father. At night the women are attacked by the creatures and Tricia is taken. Callie goes to the cops but her credibility in tatters, they don’t buy her story.
She is told to file a missing person report, and after collecting all the research she did on missing people in an envelop, Callie returns to the tunnel to offer a trade. She hears screams and sees the forms of people through the walls. A fetus (presumably Tricia’s) is pushed through the wall, and she attempts to run. She is captured by the creatures before she can escape the tunnel. As the movie ends Mallory finds the envelop and chooses to believe that Callie ran away and Tricia is happily living off the land somewhere, while his partner thinks a serial killer got to them both. Mallory puts up missing posters on the two women and sees an apparition of Callie in the tunnel entrance but ignores it and leaves, as Callie watches him with a creature next to her.
Despite it’s low quality look and even lower budget (Callie even wears the same tshirt & jammies for several nights), the film does have some creepy factor that works in their favour, although the film seems to drag in several places. And with the exception of the two women leads, the acting is suspect. Daniel does not appear to be too worse for wear despite being tortured by the creatures for 7 years. But you can’t ask for much from a $70,000 movie. I’ll give it a ….. 6.5 outta 10!