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Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Absent: Not the Movie it Could Have Been

The Absent (2011) by Sage Bannick is not the film that I was led to expect and it is not the film that it could have been. The Absent is a low budget B-movie horror / thriller, or rather it could have been.

The film opens with twin 10 year olds Oscar and Vincent (though we don’t see very much at all of Vincent at this point).  Things are rough for Oscar; he is almost electrocuted by a faulty switch, nearly run over by the family car, and he soon discovers that his parents are trying to kill him in order collect the insurance money.  But, clever Oscar, he gets the drop on them and puts rat poison in their French toast at breakfast.  All this happens in the first 10 minutes of the film.  And it is the most interesting part of the 80 minute movie.

The rest of the film takes place 25 years later as brother Vincent blah, blah, blah… it turns into a pretty typical slasher flick at this point, complete with the obligatory, not-at-all-surprising, twist ending. 

But I think that if the filmmakers had explored that first concept, they could have made a much more interesting and horrifying movie.  In The Absent we’re given only a brief glimpse into this family; their motives are hastily sketched: they need money.  But what if we’d been allowed to see the family in more detail?  Would we see loving parents who anguish over this decision but slowly come to realize its inevitability and necessity?  Would one of the parents have tried to object?  Would we, perhaps, have come to realize that Oscar was delusional and that his parents did love him and weren’t trying to kill him at all?   That would be a horrifying film – to see the boy trying to defend himself against his own paranoid hallucinations and the parents unable to stop him.  There could have been so much down with this concept.  But The Absent went straight back to slasher movie clichés without doing anything interesting with them. 

On the plus side – it did feature a few songs by the band Blind Melon.  Those were pretty good.

Other Monster Movies in October this year:

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