Sometimes it’s worth looking back.
I’ve been so impressed by Midnight Mass, and basically be everything Mike Flanagan has done so far, that I took a couple of hours on a quiet Friday afternoon and re-watched Absentia, his first (available) feature film made more than 10 years ago. It was absolutely worth the re-visit.
It’s amazing how “Flanagan” it is, how many of the themes, and his strengths, are clearly visible even in this ultra-low-budget slow-burn film. Among them: strongly drawn, believable characters … a focus on addiction and obsession (especially the 12 Steps and the religious implications) … monstrous images in the corner of the eye or the deep background.
Equally amazing: it was made for $75,000, partly crowdfunded. And yep, you’ll see actors like Katie Parker and Mike’s brother James who continue to work with him today. James is actually a producer on this film, and a co-writer of some of the Midnight Mass episodes. But the biggest mystery of all: how did he get Doug Jones to sign on? He was already a big-time character actor/monster maker at this point; he’d just finished Hellboy and then went of to do … this?
Amazing. And he’s great. Of course.
There’s a good piece about Absentia,
though not nearly enough, on SlashFilm, right here
. And these days, probably because of Flanagan’s fully deserved notoriety, it’s available to watch somewhere or other (right now, Fall ’21, it’s on Amazon Prime and Shudder).
Do yourself a big damn favor and watch it.