The Absent One Movie Review

Written by Simon Bland

Released by Picturehouse Entertainment

Directed by Mikkel Nørgaard
Written by Nikolaj Arcel, Rasmus Heisterberg, Jussi Adler-Olsen (Novel)
2014, 119 minutes, Rated 18 (UK)

Nikolaj Lie Kaas as Carl Mørck
Fares Fares as Assad
Pilou Asbæk as Ditlev Pram
Danica Curcic as Kimmy

absent one poster


When it comes to cinema each country seems to have its particular strengths. France has its cigarette smoking New Wave, for example. South Korea has its Chan-wook Park tales of vengeance, America has its blockbusters. However when it comes to tense, psychological thrillers, no one does it quite like Nordic filmmakers. In fact, they do it so well that plenty of their US and UK contemporaries have given Nordic stories an English language facelift when there’s little wrong with the original feature. Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, we’re looking at you.

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The Absent One is another example of an expertly executed Nordic crime tale. Carl Mørck (Nikolaj Lie Kaas) is a tight lipped tough case who takes his detective work so seriously, he’s neglected his family and made himself a bit of an island. Late one night, Carl is approached by a troubled stranger who accuses his police unit of ignoring the case of his two murdered daughters before going home and offing himself. Feeling guilty, Carl and his partner Assad (Fares Fares) begin looking into the case, with all leads initially pointing towards an elite group of scholars and one huge cover up. However, as Carl digs deeper into the case, his search for the truth takes him in some unexpected places.

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The film is directed by Mikkel Nørgaard, the same guy behind 2010’s controversial comedy Klown. With this in mind, The Absent One feels a little tame for Nørgaard considering his more risque previous work. That’s not to say the film doesn’t have any shocking moments. Like any good thriller, there are scenes of high tension and even shocking violence, however the whole thing is so polished and expertly put together it carries little edge. Perhaps it’s because British TV seems to have been inundated with Nordic thrillers over the past few years. You can’t help but think The Absent One might have worked better as a three part mini-series on ITV.

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But this is a horror website after all and you wouldn’t be reading this review if you weren’t after a good scare. If this is the case then despite all The Absent One’s successes, you may want to consider giving it a miss in favor of something more genre-oriented. Nørgaard’s film is a polished and does what it does very well, however sadly that thing isn’t quite horrifying enough to meet the increasingly high-standards of modern horror fans.


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absent one poster small

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