A few months after the incident, Rick and Lizzy's snarky brother Evan (Ryan Smale) decide to take her to a cabin in the woods to get away from all the stress. As is prone to happen in cinematic cabins in the woods, strange occurrences begin to proliferate -- unexplained lights in the sky, electrical disturbances, high-pitched sounds, dead fish in the lake -- all of which Evan films as part of his school project. As the events grow more ominous, it becomes clear that something has targeted the group and won't stop until it gets them.
The End Result
The bones of a good story are there, but it's never flushed out. We get small insights into the characters' lives (Lizzy and Evan's parents dying, Rick's military experience, Evan's girlfriend Megan seeming to know more than she lets on), but they never tie in to the mystery. The core question of what happened to the baby keeps us involved, but the mysterious events that occur along the way lack the scares and intrigue necessary to make the film effective. As it stands, it feels like there's only enough material here for a short film -- which is a shame, because the climactic few minutes hint at how harrowing the rest of the movie could've been.
- Acting: C (Solidly believable ad-libby performances, but some moments don't feel as natural.)
- Direction: C- (Overly realistic -- i.e., dark, shaky and blurry -- camerawork.)
- Script: D (Twenty minutes of plot stretched to 80.)
- Gore/Effects: C (Minimal gore; few effects but they're done well.)
- Overall: C- (Promising found footage fare succumbs to dull, plodding script.)
Absence is directed by Jimmy Loweree and is not rated by the MPAA. Release date: July 5, 2013 (in theaters and on demand).