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We are being haunted by ourselves – Nicolai
There wasn’t one chunk of celluloid that divided the crowd more (at the Sitges Film Festival
where I initially saw the film) than Nacho Cerda’s long awaited feature length debut The Abandoned (now seeing the US big screens on the 23rd of February 2007). It was truly a love it or hate it affair in terms of most of the people I talked to after the screening and in my book that’s usually the sign of a film that at least stands out. Indifference on the other stab…is an indication of a film that blows donkey nuts to cachou heaven.
For this lowly horror fan the stern, steel hook that pierced my flesh and reeled me into The Abandoned’s twisted world was Cerda’s badass skills behind the blood stained lens! Visually, not only were the settings ideal in terms of horror loving (creepy house, a ominous lake, a menacing wooden area) but the style at hand made it all happen as well. Glossy looking yet gritty, deliciously gloomy atmosphere, deliberate yet riveting camera movements, a slow and infectious build up…this leech knew how to push the right genre buttons and pull the proper strings to suck me dry.
Tag to that effectual tension laced bits which often played against conventions to whoop that ass, an endearing knack at using images to tell the story, deliciously macabre imagery all around (loved those The Beyond-esque Doppelgangers), awe inspiring cinematography and intrusive sound design that made sure to keep me immersed in the happenings and you get a heavy hitter aesthetics wise. The characters and the meat on their bones hit pay dirt as well. I found lots to boogie to while accompanying these well rounded “adults” on a trek for the ugly truth. It definitely jacked up the stakes that the performers in the house were bang on all around. I was feeling it and then some! With that praised and praised what was my beef with this puppy then?
Well, I did find the first act a tad sluggish; some snip down would’ve been appreciated. There is just so much you can take as to witnessing some dame walk down creepy hallways before it gets tedious. The character of Nicolai knowing EVERYTHING didn’t do it for me either. I found his expositional vomiting obvious and clumsy. And was I the only one not 100% on what the heck went down here as the end credits rolled? I got the jest of it but when looking back at it, some things didn’t hold up and some plot holes seem to surface. Finally the flick did suffer from the not knowing when to end syndrome. It dragged for a bit too long with its finale for my liking, losing some of its oomph in the process.
Overall though, The Abandoned deserves the Palm of Hookers for being one of the more top notch audio/visual and well executed horror film of the year. Too bad the lethargic first and final blocks lost some of my points and that at the end of the kill; the narrative didn’t make full sense to my feeble mind. So, you gonna embrace of abandon The Abandoned.