Absence was written in three days by Jimmy Loweree and Jake Moreno. Made by a group of friends in 110 degree weather, under the direction of Loweree, the found footage film follows the story of Liz, her husband Rick, and her brother Evan. Liz has awoken one morning to find that the baby she has carried for 7 months is suddenly missing. Doctors are baffled and law enforcement suspects the parents. To unwind from the tragedy, Liz, Rick and Evan head to a cabin in the mountains. As weird extra terrestrial events begin to happen, the explanation of the missing baby is clear.
Found footage films are still abundant, yet half the time there is no need to tell a story in such a narrative. Such is the case with Absence. The hastily written story of a pregnant woman waking up no longer pregnant should make for an interesting film, yet the execution is flawed. Most of the problem lies in the medium. Immediately I felt taken out of the film with the character of Evan filming his sister in her hospital bed, crying about her lost child. Be a film student or not, any person in their right mind would know this situation is not the time or place to be recording. If this were a regular narrative, I do believe that this script could hold up on its own. However, there are lulls where we are supposedly getting to know these characters, yet the acting – particularly Ryan Smale as Evan – seems too forced to be natural. It is disappointing as Erin Way has brief moments where her acting shines through and she is convincing as Liz.
The DVD/Blu-ray combo for Absence is simple with commentary for Loweree, Smale and cinematographer Christiano Covino. There is also a Making of Featurette with cast and crew and a trailer. The featurette shows how dedicated everyone was to making the film and how much they believed in making this inexpensive horror film effective. Such a thing is very admirable, however, in the end, the most effective parts of Absence are the scares – and there are few. The concept of aliens and abduction is rarely seen anymore. Combining that with the missing baby should make for an interesting movie, but Absence simply doesn’t explain enough through its use of the found footage narrative and ends up as a jumbled mess. If reworked as a regular film, I do believe it would have had much more potential.