In Jimmy Loweree’s striking horror feature debut “Absence,” doctors are baffled when a young expectant mother Liz (Erin Way, “Alphas”), wakes to find her nearly-to-term pregnancy disappear overnight. The police are investigating the situation as a missing child case and only her husband, Rick (Eric Matheny, J. Edgar) and brother, Evan (Ryan Smale, Damage) trust her version of events. Told in the “found footage” style, Evan looks for answers by filming his sister’s experience. The trio embarks upon a trip to the mountains to escape the attention of the police and prying neighbors. When the trip spins out of control they realize that whatever happened with Liz and her baby isn’t over. None of them are safe.
Below, Loweree shares a scene from his film and defends his use of found footage. “Absence” is now playing in select theaters including the Quad Cinema in New York City and the Gateway Film Center in Columbus, OH.
Found footage still alive and thriving
The found-footage sub-genre gets a lot of shit. Whenever someone says “found footage,” people often shudder, and I get it.
Despite this, found footage films are still popular, and I think that’s because it’s a style that can immediately get the audience into a scene or situation, and really relating to the moment personally. I think viewers love that. That said, I completely understand why it gets a lot of hate. It has turned into a fad, and who doesn’t love to hate fads?
Despite the pervasive attitude, “popular” doesn’t mean “bad.” I really think movies only become bad when someone forces a style on their story instead of doing what best serves the film. Genre has to be in service of the story, otherwise a film is going to suffer.
Some of the best scary movies, for me, have been found footage. They set a up a relatable situation that quickly connects me to the characters. The films make me wonder what I would do in those same circumstances. Also, this isn’t a new style. Found footage has been around for a while in various forms and with different names. Now it’s evolving, and I think it will keep doing so. I think we’ll continue to see new found footage films that will be really good (with some really bad) as we’ve already discovered in the past few years.
With “Absence” I honestly felt, right or wrong, that found footage was the right choice. The style allowed me to approach these characters in a way that I wouldn’t get to otherwise. It’s also cheap. I wanted to make a movie, not just keep thinking about making a movie. So this was the right fit.
I tried to be very careful in presenting the story and our characters in a way that made sense. I didn’t want to shoot a found-footage film for the sake of it; I wanted to tell a story first. There are an infinite number of ways to tell any story, but I found this approach to be the most engaging. I wanted the audience to feel that this story was real, and that it could happen to them.
I honestly hope people relate to these characters, and get scared when shit hits the fan.
I really like this scene which features Evan, the brother of our leading lady. The film in large part is told through Evan’s eyes as he tries to understand what happened to his sister’s pregnancy which mysteriously disappears at the 7 month mark with no explanation. I really enjoy this scene because it uses something that occurs off camera to creep out the audience. Kind of like hearing neighbors have a scream off, it’s just disturbing…