Absence is the story of personal loss and tragedy that befalls three very different people in the setting of a small, New York suburb. Told from three point of views, it unfolds in three vignettes which tie a larger storyline together.
First we meet Mary Logan, a runaway already jaded by life at the tender young age of nineteen. Earning a living in the alternative world of fetish modeling, Mary yearns for a different sense of self, a detachment that compels in her a rather peculiar desire to pose dead in photos, perhaps for some kind of strange catharsis. Although an unusual and arguably somewhat warped means of release, Mary nonetheless seems to be making her way in life. But her past, soon creeps up on her in the form of disturbing phone calls casting judgement upon her and her livelihood. With no real friends and a family she's long since left behind, she senses her world beginning to close in around her. And she soon becomes beset with a paranoia that some kind of threatening presence is looming right outside her door. But paranoia turns to awareness as Mary ends up trapped in the basement of the house in which she's renting a room, as the mysterious phone caller walks the floors above her, until he then finds and abducts her.
While all this is occurring, we meet Harris Becker. It's the night that his wife Christina loses their baby girl in a still born miscarriage and the couple is beginning a steady descent into an unrelenting depression. At home they lumber through the halls and rooms like zombies, surrounded by boxes of baby furniture and the fragments of their lives that now resonate like hollow echoes. At night, Christina sits in front of the TV, desperately, but quietly tuning out the tragedy and staying up till the sun rises. Meanwhile Harris tosses and turns in bed, seized by recurring nightmares of his younger sister, Lisa being kidnapped right from under his eyes at a neighborhood park, almost 20 years ago. With the trauma of Christina's miscarriage, his nightmares intensify to the point of producing insomnia and a gradual disintegration of his sanity and his perception of what is real and what is seeping out of the darkness of his subconscious. Harris takes to walking the streets of his neighborhood in the quiet hours before the sun rises. But what starts as therapeutic turns into fretful obsession when he spots the face of a girl seemingly a prisoner in the basement room of an otherwise idyllic suburban home. In an instant she disappears and Harris runs off, uncertain of what he has actually seen, as his ability to distinguish reality from the delusions of his duress has certainly been compromised. But he returns to the house, peeking in windows, straining to make out her form again - perhaps as much out of his need to know and to then to rescue her, as out of a feverish compulsion to redeem himself for the loss of his sister. Consumed by this specter and the twisted hope that perhaps the girl might actually in fact be his sister, Harris all but abandons his wife and best friend Tom. And along with them, he also ultimately abandons his own rationality - refusing to call the police and instead insisting that he save the girl himself without interference from anyone outside.
The stories of Mary Logan and Harris Becker converge violently with the story of a third, equally restless and lost soul, Jeremiah Logan, Mary's stepfather and, as we discover, the person behind the strange and chilling phone calls. But contrary to his own conviction about Mary's role in breaking up the family, he is himself the man Mary's mother blames for tearing their family apart and chasing Mary off. And so he is therefor consumed with an obsession of his own - namely to rectify this familial rift by any means possible.
As Mary rests bound and gagged in the basement of the home she fled years ago, and as Jeremiah strives to cleanse her all while praying fiercely for the salvation of her soul, the question of who or what is good and who or what is evil becomes ambiguous at best. Perhaps Jeremiah is just a man doing what he thinks he must do to set things right. And perhaps Harris' attempts to save her will prove terribly misguided if not outright harmful.
One thing is certain, when Harris Becker shows up to rescue Mary, at least partly in an attempt to re-patch his own life, Jeremiah is waiting for him, and things are about to go from bad to worse for everyone.