Reviews & Counting
# A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
The Abandoned(2006)
Written by: The Arrow
Director: Nacho Cerda

Anastasia Hille/Marie
Karel Roden/Nicolai
7 10
Producer dame Marie (Anastasia Hille) returns to Russia where she's coaxed into re-visiting the old house that she grew up in. Once there, she hooks up with the mysterious Nicolai (Karel Roden) and together they attempt to find out the truth about the house, their past and the hardcore hauntings going on in this Zoo. I see...DOPPLEGANGERS!

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.

The flick was far from a splatterfest but when it got nasty, it got nasty. Wait till you see the "bullet in the leg" bit; damn gross! Or the mangled up bodies (those Dopplegangers take a licking and keep on ticking) NICE!
I had never heard of Anastasia Hille (Marie), but if this strong, layered, emotionally charged performance is an indication of what she’s about; I’m all for seeing more of her. The always reliable Karel Roden (Nicolai) displayed menace, vulnerability and a sense of stillness that I found captivating.
T & A
I was naked in the audience while watching the film. Does that count?
Cerda’s take on the material totally cranked my dial. There was a maturity behind the camera that you don’t see often in first time feature length directors. That coupled with his visually driven approach, his expert handle on suspense and his sly plays on expectations made for quite the compelling watch.
We get a bleak, threatening score and a masterful use of chilling sounds.
The Abandoned knocked me to the mat when it came to its developed & appealing characters, its unsettling locales, its forceful scares and Cerda’s polished/powerful/resourceful showcase at the helm. It looked amazing, sounded great and slashed where it count. I personally would’ve grooved to a tighter edit of the whole and a pinch more rationale as to the bamboozling events (especially when looking back at it), but generally speaking, I had a rock and roll time within this house of horrors. Can’t wait to see what Cerda does next!
The flick was written by Richard Stanley (HARDWARE), Karim Hussain (SUBCONSCIOUS CRUELTY) and director Nacho Cerdà.

The movie was shot in Sofia, Bulgaria which posed as Russia.