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Absence: Film Review

Absence Film Poster - P 2013

The Bottom Line

An intriguing premise is wasted in this latest example of the increasingly tired found-footage genre.

Director

Jimmy Loweree

Cast

Erin Way, Eric Matheny, Ryan Smale, Stephanie Scholz

A young woman's unborn child mysteriously disappears overnight in this found-footage style horror film.

The good news about the found footage genre is that filmmakers armed with little more than an inexpensive video camera can make perfectly respectable looking horror films.

The bad news about the found footage genre is that filmmakers armed with little more than an inexpensive video camera can make perfectly respectable looking horror films.

The latest example of this style that has long worn out its welcome is Absence, Jimmy Loweree’s micro-budgeted DIY feature debut that begins with an intriguing premise before lapsing into monotony and ultimately incoherence.

It concerns a young woman, Liz (Erin Way), seven months pregnant, who wakes up one morning to discover that her unborn child has literally disappeared overnight. Although we’re given no details about how this might have occurred, an ominous if misleading screen text appears early on informing us that “Cesarean theft” is responsible for 20 percent of infant kidnappings.

Treated with suspicion by the police and open hostility by the community, Liz and husband Rick (Eric Matheny) escape to a remote mountain cottage, accompanied by her younger brother Evan (Ryan Smale). Conveniently enough, Evan happens to be a budding filmmaker who decides to keep his camera perpetually rolling to document the proceedings for a university project.

A fourth character is shortly introduced in the form of Megan (Stephanie Scholz), a fetching local girl with whom the boyishly charming (or annoying, depending on your tolerance level) Evan quickly begins a romance.

Much of the film’s running time is consumed by the group’s subsequent trivial activities, including frequent bickering between the two men; soul-baring confessionals delivered by Liz to Evan’s camera; and a communal swim in a nearby lake.

But eventually ominous things begin happening, ranging from mysterious, UFO-like lights in the sky to Liz experiencing severe headaches and nosebleeds. By the time the proceedings reach their Paranormal Activity-style violent conclusion, the viewer’s interest has long since waned.

Opens July 5 (Cinedigm)

Production: Radcliffe Pictures

Cast: Erin Way, Eric Matheny, Ryan Smale, Stephanie Scholz

Director: Jimmy Loweree

Screenwriters: Jimmy Loweree, Jake Moreno

Producers: Parker J. Johal, Jimmy Loweree, Michaelangelo Covino

Executive producers: Mark Loweree, Neil Willner, Doug Kerr, Brent Emery

Editor: Christiano Covino

Costume designer: Stephanie Scholz

Not rated, 81 min.