Reviewed by: Jamey Hughton
What's it about
An American film producer, searching for her birth parents in Russia, is led to the house where she was born - in the middle of a dark, scary forest. She comes upon another man who claims to be her twin brother, and together the two try to unravel the mysterious past of their family and the creepy old house.
Is it good movie?
THE ABANDONED was the only movie in After Dark Horrorfest’s 8 FILMS TO DIE FOR to receive a solo theatrical release. The other seven went straight to DVD. To understand why this one was the lucky exception, all you have to do is take in the film’s rich, fog-drenched atmosphere for five or ten minutes . THE ABANDONED is easily one of the most beautiful looking horror films I’ve seen recently. Excellent sets, art direction and a haunting musical score threaten to fully submerge the viewer in a bleak, nightmarish world of psychological surrealism.
And now the bad news. Aside from its impressive technical credits, THE ABANDONED proves to be mostly a blank slate. The film’s two main characters, Marie (Anastasia Hille) and Nicolai (Karl Roden), wander the house and are confronted by creepy zombie-like doppelgangers, but after a while unanswered questions continue to pile up and the film becomes a real case of style over ambiguous substance. The screenplay by Karim Hussain, Richard Stanley and director Nacho Cerda takes a bit too much pleasure in being cryptic. The story being told here has a point: that there are places to horrifying to revisit, dark things from our past that we would sooner forget. But it’s never more than a thin framework for some very polished visuals and an excuse to get out the ol’ fog machine. While the eventual outcome allows patient viewers to piece the movie together, it fails to leave much of a lasting impression.
Shot in Bulgaria by Spanish director Cerda, THE ABANDONED falls back on some of Hollywood’s oldest horror traditions, such as a main character who will foolishly follow any strange noise and wander down any dark tunnel that she pleases. Cerda and cinematographer Xavi Gimenez deserve kudos for creating a truly disquieting and ominous vibe for the film, especially during the introduction of the dreamy horror setting in the woods. Makeup and gore effects are fittingly gross... anyone up for a wild pig feeding?
Hille proves to be a blank slate herself as the film’s heroine. Better is Roden (you may remember him from 15 MINUTES and as Rasputin in HELLBOY), who has a haunted quality that fits Cerda’s vision well here.
Video / Audio
Video Beautiful 2:35:1 Widescreen Presentation
Audio Dolby Digital 2.0 and 5.1, with English and Spanish subtitles
The Making of The Abandoned All-too-brief 6-minute featurette; interviews with Hille, Roden and Cerda.
THE ABANDONED is a horror film that reels you in with a beautiful and dangerous look, but leaves you a bit unfulfilled with its dreary story.