Day 25: ‘Catch Up’
Mike Flanagan has made a name for himself within the horror genre with films such as Oculus (2013), Hush (2016), Ouija: Origin Of Evil (2016), Gerald’s Game (2017) and Doctor Sleep (2019) and series with The Haunting Of Hill House (2018) and Midnight Mass (2021). His first film as writer and director Absentia (2011) is a slow burn and moody piece that sets the tone for what would come from Flanagan.
Tricia (Courtney Bell) has been dealing with her husband Daniel’s (Morgan Peter Brown) sudden and mysterious disappearance for 7 years. Due to have a baby and in the process of having her husband declared ‘dead in absentia’ her sister Callie (Katie Parker) comes to stay. Callie soon discovers a strange tunnel near the house may be connected with Daniel’s appearance plus others who have gone missing.
Absentia is a film that made the most out of its small budget, including a small role from the great Doug Jones. There is a very moody and intimate feel to the film, there is heartbreak and grief with some unsettling moments thrown in. There isn’t a huge amount that is explained and perhaps a few things should have been addressed but it doesn’t affect how things ultimately play out. For a debut feature there is a lot to admire here, an ambitious film that works on many levels and certainly a must see for Flanagan fans.
Day 26: ‘Blood’
The House That Dripped Blood (1971)
On to the second horror anthology film for 31 Days Of Horror with Day 26’s film The House That Dripped Blood (1971), a film with an all star cast and four stories with a house that ties them all together. Early horror anthology films are generally quite a delight to discover, to see how the sub-genre has changed and evolved over the years. The film may appear to be tame by today’s standards, there are some excellent performances with some genuine scares and a house that is a character within the film that is beautiful and utterly terrifying.
When a Scotland Yard detective (John Bennett) investigates the disappearance of a famous actor, he is led to his last known location, which is an unoccupied house. During his investigation he his told four stories to do with the house and what happened to the people who lived there, including what happened to the famous actor. The four segments include performances from – Denholm Elliott, Robert Lang, Peter Cushing, Joss Ackland, Christopher Lee, Jon Pertwee and Ingrid Pitt just to name a few. Each story is different with the common element of taking place in the sane house and they have their own themes.
With That House That Dripped Blood, the segments being tied together by the house, with the wrap around being about an investigation gave the film a natural flow and the transitions were smooth. The actors are quite wonderful, bringing their charm to the characters with Jon Pertwee giving an incredibly fun campy performance to close out the film. This is a fine example of a horror anthology that has a certain flow to it with each segment having the same setting and the segments are all very solid and entertaining. For horror anthology fans this is a must see film, it’s different and that cast really is a great selling point.
Reviews written by Marcella Papandrea