- Straight to Video
- Director: Sage Bannick
- Written by: Damon Abdallah, Sage Bannick, Ari Bernstein
- Running Time: minutes
- Language: English
- MPAA Rating:
- Cast: Sam Ball, Jennifer Blanc, Lucas Dick, Jesse Gullion, Matthew Josten, Jamielyn Kane, Bryan Kirkwood, Moniqua Plante, Carlos Ramirez, Vanessa Zima, Yvonne Zima
One thing I really like is when I am pleasantly surprised by a movie. When you get a movie and drop it into the player, you usually have some sort of expectations or preconceptions of what you are about to watch, and then as you watch, the movie usually meets or exceeds or falls short of them. But sometimes when you watch a movie, it takes your expectations and tosses them right out the window and goes off on a totally unexpected direction. THE ABSENT was just such a movie.
When I first received the movie and looked at the box cover and read the synopsis, this thing was screaming 'teen-slasher flick' at me. And sure, when I was younger, like most horror fans, I loved teen-slasher movies. It was a groovy thing seeing those teenage co-eds sliced and diced in all sorts of brutally cool fashions, but that was several hundred 'teen-slasher flicks' ago. Now it seems, I've seen so many that the genre has run it's course with me. It's been done to death. It would take some serious Dario Argento type stuff for a teen-slasher flick to impress me these days. So needless to say I had some lowered expectations for this movie.
And sure enough, it started out in typical teen-slasher fashion with a Prom Night-like childhood flashback. Only this flashback, turned out to be pretty cool and more reminiscent of David Cronenberg's Spider. After a couple of near fatal accidents happen to him and after finding a lot of outstanding bills and an insurance policy, a boy draws a delusional conclusion and kills his mother and step-father.
We flash ahead twenty-five years to find this boy a grown man and having served his time is released from prison. His twin brother on the other hand, has gone on to become a successful high school science teacher. Coincidentally enough, as one brother finds himself free from prison to begin life again, the other makes the mistake of becoming sexually involved with a student which could destroy his. Without making himself known, the freed twin sets about trying to save his science teacher brother and the bodies begin to pile up.
Do you see? This does sound like a teen-slasher flick, doesn't it? But I tell you true, as this movie played out, it felt more like a cool episode of Columbo (I happen to love Columbo). You know who the killer is. You actually see him do the killing (so if you are a teen-slasher fan, you will not be disappointed). But the movie is more about the cat and mouse game being played. There is the sheriff looking for the killer, the potential victims, the science teacher who has to cover for himself, and of course the killer, all moving about and interacting in a deadly psychological game.
And then, of course, there is the ending. And yes, it's my favorite kind. The kind with the big twist. Well, I guess it wasn't that big, because I suspected it way before I think I was supposed to, but then I watch a lot of this thing, so it doesn't mean you will. Without giving anything away, I'll just say it's one of those endings like The Sixth Sense or Saw where you have to go back and watch it again and look for all the clues you missed to the outcome.
Gore wise, the movie is not over the top, but I'm pretty sure slasher fans will not be too disappointed. The murders are brutal and violent enough to get the point across, but without being drawn out and gratuitous. They are no where near something like Joe Spinell in Maniac, but they are quite a bit more than the shower scene from Psycho. They are right there in the middle, which is a good place to be in a movie like this.
From a technical stand point the movie is also well done. It's very much on par with your higher end shot on video production. The actors are all professional. The camera work is professional. There is some good aesthetic shots including some cool time-lapsed stuff and there is some great teenage girls making out with each other (yeah, I know gratuitous, but I personally like that sort of gratuity). Sure you could nitpick and find a few flaws, just like any movie, but for an Independently shot film, this one out does itself for looking professional. From the look of it, I guess the cast and crew knew what they were doing.
So I guess what I'm saying is, although this movie is no great epic, it's heads above your typical slasher movie and if you are in the mood for a bit of psychological thriller with a teen/slasher edge, you could do a whole lot worse than THE ABSENT.