Monday, October 06, 2014

30 Days of Nightmares #6: ABSENCE (2013)

The Story: A woman traumatized by the mysterious disappearance of her unborn baby escapes to a cabin in the woods with her husband and her obnoxious film student brother (who is determined to "document the healing process" for a "school project").

Expectations: Having a child definitely gives a person more things to fear.  With a new baby at home, my wife can no longer watch any movie that shows young children in peril.  (We had a tough time with the beach scene in UNDER THE SKIN.)  For the most part, however, we've moved past the fears that come with pregnancy, so I thought we could handle this one.

Reaction: Basically, this is PARANORMAL ACTIVITY with aliens instead of ghosts.  On one hand, it's a well-produced and well-acted film.  The storytellers obviously understand what makes a film like PARANORMAL ACTIVITY work, which is why they've put all of their focus on character development.  When weird things start happening, the characters seem like real people who are just trying to live their lives in the midst of unexplainable events. 

Now for the bad news... the found footage gimmick feels forced and the alien abduction scenario feels like old hat.  I don't know why ghosts are suddenly more believable than aliens (that certainly wasn't the case in the 1990s, when THE X-FILES was the height of genre storytelling), but it does seem like American moviegoers currently believe more in ghosts than in aliens.  Because of the stylistic similarities to PARANORMAL ACTIVITY, this otherwise solid little film seems derivative.  

Most Nightmare-Worthy Moment: The scariest thing in this movie is a question that never gets answered... What happened to the baby?!

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