ENG2135 Film Review Essay

Submitted By Matt-Manso
Words: 1110
Pages: 5

A Horrific Truth Lies within Absentia
Since around the 19th century, Gothic horror has been developing into the horror genre that we recognise today within the film industry. When classifying a film by genre, there is a specific criteria that must be followed to ensure that the right genre is given to the film such as the plot, the lighting, the “spooky” music, etc... In regard to the effect that the horror film should have on the audience, these films aim to invoke a sensation of fear, disgust, anger and tension all at various moments within the film. The film Absentia, directed and written by Mike Flanagan, is classified within the drama, horror and mystery sections (IMDB.com). According to the characteristics of generic horror and the sensations of affective horror, this film fulfills the expectations in both categories. The main plot tells the story of sisters, Tricia and Callie, who are about to pronounce Tricia’s missing husband as dead by the cause of absentia. During the process of obtaining a death certificate, Tricia begins having lucid dreams about her missing husband and having vivid hallucinations of him throughout the day. When her sister, Callie, suspects that something else may be going on after a series of events, she goes looking into the past of the suspicious tunnel that is nearby. Several people have gone missing in that neighbourhood and everyone comes back with the story of a giant bug that, after trading with it, brings you to the “underneath”, never to be seen again.
First of all, the film succeeds in the sense of generic horror because of several characteristics that the horror genre includes in its boundaries. The first characteristic, and perhaps the largest, that Absentia includes is the presence of a supernatural being, in this case a giant bug. The implicit hinting towards another world within the living, in this case being the underworld, also adds another layer to the supernatural as such a world does not seem to exist within the normal everyday lives of human beings outside of movies. The next characteristic that this movie includes is the suspense and fear caused by various lighting, sound, music and the settings of various scenes. Around the location of the tunnel, the directors are always able to give a feeling of uneasiness to not only the characters in the film, but also their audience. The tunnel always seems sombre, and whenever the characters walk through it once its secret has been found out, the music changes and the suspense given by the scene is very affective to create that sense of uneasiness, which I assume that the directors are trying to give to the audience. This feeling of uneasiness is also often accompanied by the feeling of suspense and fear because of some of the things that Callie witnesses in the tunnel as she walks through it. For example when she walks past the body of Walter Lambert half-dead on the ground and the sounds that occur as she walks through the tunnel.
Secondly, the film succeeds in producing affective horror within its audience through various typical cues that horror movies contain to create that fear, suspense, anger and disgust. There are several dynamics used such as pop-out scares, a horrific plot line as well as supernatural elements in this film that create a sensation of fear within the viewer. One of the most famous scare tactics in all of history, the pop-out scare is used at multiple times throughout the movie. Unlike most horror movies, the pop-out scares seem to be absent when you expect them to be there and present when you’re least expecting them. The suspense leading up to a supposed pop-out scare may relieve the viewer, however it bounces right back by scaring them when they least expect it. This film in its entirety also possesses a certain supernatural aspect which, not always implicit, creates unease within many viewers in the audience. Next, the plot line itself contains a twisted and weird scenario about a woman’s husband who…