Directed by Jimmy Loweree
In Absence, the feature directorial debut of Jimmy Loweree, a young woman named Liz, seven months pregnant with a baby girl, wakes up one morning to discover that the life she had inside her has inexplicably disappeared without a trace. The police are treating it as a missing persons case, and it goes without saying that they suspect she and her husband, Rick, are culpable in some way. In an attempt to provide Liz with a semblance of therapy, Rick and her brother, Evan, take her to a small cabin in a small mountain town, with Evan filming the entire thing for a school project.
Normally here is where I would include something to indicate the actual plot of the film. Was the baby taken through supernatural means? Is Liz possessed by a demon? Does the cabin have some sort of special significance? Or is it nothing more than an hour and ten minutes of pointless filler with sporadic scares completely devoid of context? Does that constitute a plot? Because that’s Absence in a nutshell.
Like the majority of low-budget found footage films, Absence is comprised of a lot of talking that lacks even the benefit of being expository in nature. It’s a lot of complaining, pointless observations, and trite arguments that have absolutely no bearing on the story. After the first night, they’re quickly joined by a young woman named Meg, and for most of the film all they do is play games, go swimming, and occasionally Evan will interview Liz about the disappearance of her baby. Throughout it all unexplainable events occur: Blue lights appear sporadically in the distance, random nosebleeds befall Liz, and malfunctioning electronics make for one awkward movie night.
Loweree’s attempts at being vague fall flat, with none of the aforementioned scares having any relevance until the film reaches its exceedingly underwhelming finale. They’re all dismissed by the characters, with everything leading up to the end having almost no legitimate connection to the cause of everything. It’s a loose connection of uninspired moments that simply leave you scratching your head until the contrived finale hits; confusion and boredom give way to utter disappointment. Beyond this there’s Meg, who disappears after a defining moment that sees a subcutaneous creature crawling underneath Liz’s skin during a BBQ and then reappears only momentarily to spout cryptic one-liners that have zero relevance to anything. It’s as if the whole thing was an experiment in improvisation, made on the fly and loosely cobbled together to form something that resembles a movie.
Absence warrants no further discussion. It’s nothing more than a bait-and-switch, drawing you in with an original concept, supported by a poster that alludes to an extraterrestrial component that isn’t given any sort of credence until the film’s final, anti-climactic moments. It’s a slow burn without the burn and represents everything wrong with found footage. Avoid this one at all costs.
1/2 out of 5