The Abandoned *
Directed by Nacho Cerda
Written by Nacho Cerda, Karim Hussain, and Richard Stanley
Anastasia Hill as Marie
Karel Roden as Nicolai
Valentin Ganev as Andrei Misharin
Carlos Reig as Anatoliy
94 Minutes(Rated R for violence/gore, some disturbing images, nudity and language.)
Way back in November there was this little film festival called the "After Dark Horrorfest," where selected theatres showed eight films that were supposed to be "too much for regular audiences too handle." Real disturbing and creepy stuff, it was supposed to be. But the catch was that the films were not being released wide, and the only real chance to see them on the big screen was during that weekend. I did not attend a single film during the weekend, and when asked why I wasn't going to Horrorfest, I replied that I had no interest in seeing films that were not good enough to be released directly to people. They were obviously direct to video calibur, and not worth my time. Plus there were other things to see that weekend. "The Abandoned" is one of the films from the Horrorfest weekend, and it is somewhat the "winner" of the them all. It was the audience favorite, and Lionsgate had a hand in releasing it to about one thousand theatres this weekend. After seeing "The Abandoned," and learning that it was the best film at Horrorfest made me wonder how horrible the other films could have been if this was declared the winner. "The Abandoned" ends up being a trash film-it doesn't have a nice visual look at all, the acting is poor, and the scares aren't really there. It has a story that could have been creepy if the atmosphere was right, but the low low low production values just kill any of those chances, however slim they were.
"The Abandoned" begins with the middle aged woman Marie finding out information about her birth parents. It turns out that they were murdered, but there is still some property left over that she given(gee, what kind of horror flick do you suppose this is?) Marie was abandoned as a baby, and she wants to find out a little bit more about where she came from-her parents, their history, why they gave her up, etc, and she figures that the best place to find answers is to go to the home where everything would have happened in. Marie goes to the property, and suddenly begins to find that it isn't what it seems to be. For one thing, every now and then she sees herself in zombie form, walking really slowly across the room with large white spaces where her eyeballs should be. And then she learns that whenever you attack this zombie creature, whatever pain that is inflicted on it becomes inflicted on herself. Marie learns this the hard way from her companion Nicolai who ends up shooting the zombie him, only to findm a bullet in his leg. It also turns out that Nicolai may or may not be a brother to Marie, and the two of them become stuck in the mystery of the house, where they discover that they are about to live in a recreation of the night their parents were murdered-and fate will allow it the chance for them to die just like they were supposed to forty years ago.
"The Abandoned" was praised at Horrorfest for being suspenseful, and actually creepy. I'd say that this film had the POTENTIAL to be suspenseful and actually creepy. There are some moments that, if done better, could have been gripping. There are long moments where Marie walks around the house, and the scene could have been effective with the right amount of tension, maybe no music. Perhaps it was the time of day that I saw this, which was 11:40 in the morning, but there was nothing scary about this. Just a little gross-seeing the dogs rip about the dead body of that one character was just not something that I needed to see, or seeing Nicolai try to pull the bullet out of his leg, and then burning the wound was just horrifying. The visual look makes it clear that this production did not have a lot of money to burn. The entire thing has this grainy look to it that is clearly not intential or done to give the film a certain look. It was just cheap. "The Abandoned" is direct to video quality, and clarifies my theory that Horrorfest was just a bunch of films that were not good enough to be released across the nation. Hopefully audiences WILL abandon this picture, and see something more worthwhile over the weekend.