Forget found footage films: Absentia is how you do low-budget horror


Found footage films really brought back the slow burner genre, building a sense of dread as they move toward the final shocking moments instead of assaulting us from the beginning with sleek, hyperactive horror. They also force the imagination to fill in the gaps using the classic concept of “what you can’t see is most frightening” (especially true in the age of CGI).

The 2011 film Absentia benefits from the subtleties of found footage films like Paranormal Activity without being one. The everyday looking actors give excellent, genuine, realistic performances. And anyone who has ever walked through one of those creepy, dark tunnels that travels under a highway will totally relate to this movie. The tunnel is right across the street from the main character’s house, and gives me the same sinking feeling I got from curb sewers after I read Stephen King’s It.

absentia tunnel

The simplicity of the story is what makes it so effective. A woman’s husband disappeared 7 years ago. She is now about to legally declare her husband never coming back. Her free-spirited sister comes to stay with her. There’s also an adorable chunky Teddy bear cop (that I want to marry) who comes and checks on her regularly.

absentia cop

And then there’s…the tunnel.

There’s weird shit going on in the house. Like really freaky shit that makes me wanna piss myself. The woman keeps seeing her husband in the shadows, and these sequences provide much of the hugely effective tension, plus occasional heart-in-throat jump scares. Meanwhile, her sister, who goes out jogging each day, is experiencing some seriously creepy shit in that damn tunnel—and also starts to get weird vibes in the house.

absentia tunnel exterior

The containment of the action makes it so easy to relate to the terror. You know there’s something monstrous going on in the walls of that God-forsaken tunnel…and crawling its way across the street to infiltrate the fricking house! We’re talking old school monsters in the closet and under the bed fear. And the last few scenes, including a terrifying focus on a dark room and a twisted confrontation with the entity, make this one of those films that will scar you for life!

About Daniel

I am the author of the horror anthologies CLOSET MONSTERS: ZOMBIED OUT AND TALES OF GOTHROTICA and HORNY DEVILS, and the horror novels COMBUSTION and NO PLACE FOR LITTLE ONES. I am also the founder of BOYS, BEARS & SCARES, a facebook page for gay male horror fans! Check it out and like it at
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