The Abandoned review by The Grim Ringler

The Abandoned

The Abandoned

Imagine my surprise when I learned that our little city was going to be getting the Horror Fest movies that had been advertised on tv for, oh, three months now. I hadnt had a terribly big interest in the movies as none of them looked all that good, even though I loved the notion behind the festival. As the date came closer though, and I realized we were getting the movies locally I decided to sample a movie and see if I was wrong and whether the flick was good or not. Lucky for me, I was very wrong.

On the eve of her birthday a woman is contacted about a mother shes never known. She was orphaned as a baby and given up to adoption in Russia, where she was born, and she has never known anything about her past or her family. Curious as to why shes been contacted and who she is, the woman leaves America for Russia in search of answers. Upon meeting with the man who has contacted her she comes to find out that her mother had been brutally murdered not long after the girl was born. The land and home where the murder had happened are now the property of the woman, though she doesnt have a great interest in the house after forty-two years of abandonment. More curious than ever, the woman heads out to the remote area where the family farm is located, hoping to find some closure there, instead finding only more mysteries. The people in the town near the house seem afraid of the place and beg her not to return there, but she pushes off their fear and travels on anyway. The farm is isolated and stands on a small island covered in thick forest. The woman hires a driver to take her to the home but before they reach their destination he stops the truck and tells her hell go and find out of the path is clear ahead. Its the middle of the night and nothing can be seen beyond the headlights. Strange sounds emerge from the forest but the woman is desperate to find her driver when the trucks battery dies. She takes a flashlight and goes in search of him but finds not him, but the house, which stands open and forgotten, looming over the land around it. Unable to find her guide, she decides to search the house, in case he might be in there, but more to get a feel for the place she comes from. The houses shows its age and its disuse and, with the trapped memories that still linger, truly is a haunted house. The woman is about to find out how haunted. While exploring she comes across a woman who is the exact double for her, only, this double is long dead and appears to have drowned. The woman flees from the house only to fall into the water herself, barely escaping death when a man she doesnt know saves her. The man claims to be the womans twin brother, a brother shes never even known existed before, but more than that, the man says he has seen her double, as well as his own, and that they are omens of what is to come. They have been called back to their home for one reason, and one reason alone to re-live the day their mother died, a day that may well claim their lives as well.

The power of this film comes from the steady, restrained direction of director Nacho Cerda, who never overplays his hand or the horror here. This is a film that has a great many horrifying moments, but the unease we feel is due to the way the film is lit, is scored, and how the actors act. This is a surreal film where nothing feels safe and where the past is ever-present.

Ah, yes, the past.

The key to this film is its message, and is a chilling one that says that the family bond is one that cannot be easily broken, and that bond can linger, even in death.

The music in Abandoned, as I stated before, is very well done. Its a simple yet jarring throwback to earlier films that relied on these scores and not soundtracks to create a mood. The sets are very oppressive and its hard not to feel the dread that the characters feel as their pasts unreel before them. The special effects are jarring but not overdone, though there are a couple moments of gore. The far more shocking and horrifying moment comes from suggestion and editing and its a scene that will haunt the viewer as it places a child in the worst kind of danger imaginable. The best compliment I can give this film is to say that if you have seen a Lucio Fulci film you will understand my fondness for Abandoned. Its the sense of inevitability, as if we have no recourse against fate that lends the film its power. And powerful it is.

The hell of it is that the movie is awfully confusing, especially during the climax, which takes one too many turns for its own good. This all serves the dream quality of the film, or, well, in this case the nightmare quality, but it doesnt serve the audience. Its hard not to get confused as things begin to wrap up and as the plot should be coming clearer it only gets fuzzier. Me, being a Fulci fan, can appreciate this quality to the film, and I do think that things do get resolved in the end, but it isnt a straight path. There is also a bit of stretching the limits of believability as well. I mean, seriously, there are some things that the woman in this move does that are just ridiculous, even for a movie. Youre in a foreign land, in the woods, at night, and your driver wanders off and is lost in the woods, so what do you do? Naturally you wander after him. Ridiculous.

Sure, there are some odd things here, and some may be put off by the dream quality and dream logic, but its a solid effort and was a great addition to the Horrorfest lineup. I had the misfortune to see two-thirds of Penny Dreadful as well and, sadly, that movie lives down to its name. Not sure youll get another theatrical shot at this one but its well worth finding on DVD if you like your nightmares served very, very cold.

c




7 out of 10 Jackasses
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