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Overall Rating
3.12

Awesome: 0%
Worth A Look65.38%
Average: 7.69%
Pretty Bad: 0%
Total Crap: 26.92%

3 reviews, 8 user ratings


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Abandoned, The (2007)
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by Doug Bentin

"Scary. Not just creepy. Not just disturbing. Scary."
4 stars

Among the least convincing reasons given when the question “Why do people like horror movies?” is posed is, “Because they make you feel good when you survive all the scary stuff.” Yeah, and when you get to your car in the parking lot you see that someone has scratched the paint job and suddenly the world is a dark and hateful place again.

No, if a horror movie makes you feel good, it hasn’t done its job. This is not a feel-good genre. Even horror-black comedies like “Return of the Living Dead” or “Re-Animator” should leave you with the sense that sometimes God falls asleep at the switch and all is not right with the world.

With that prelude, let me tell you that “The Abandoned,” the first film from Spanish director Nacho Cerda, written by Cerda, Karim Hussain and Richard Stanley, is as dark as any film I’ve seen lately, and if you’re not interested in meaning and only care about the scares, it’s the only horror movie I’ve seen in a theater in the last five years that actually sent that proverbial chill down my spine—and I mean that literally.

Anastasia Hille stars as Marie, born in Russia in 1966, left parentless and raised in the U.S. Curious about her birth mother, she has done some long distance investigating and now, through a Russian named Misharin (Valentin Ganev), has located her family’s abandoned farm. It’s on an island in a river, approachable either by boat or bridge. She goes there, led by an odd man named Anatoliy (Carlos Reig), who disappears as soon as they arrive.

Now she’s alone, she thinks, but she keeps seeing the backs of people as they leave one room and move into another. Spooked, she tries to run away from the house, only to fall into the river and, since she cannot swim, all appears lost.

Then she wakes up back in the house, being tended by a man named Nicolai (Karel Roden, “Running Scared,” “The Bourne Supremacy”) who claims that he has come to the old farm for the same reason she has. They are, in fact, twins.

He, too, has seen the bloodied ghosts, and when they both see the spirits up close and personal, the ghosts turn out to be them. They are literally haunting themselves.

And from there it gets weird.

At least 80 percent of the film takes place in an old farmhouse that hasn’t been inhabited since a murder was committed there 40 years ago. Tzytana Yankoya’s set decoration is consistently unsettling and Xavi Gimenez’s washed out cinematography is cold and bleak.

Obviously inspired by Lucio Fulci’s “The Beyond” and Sam Raimi’s “The Evil Dead,” but without the humor, “The Abandoned” builds relentlessly to a conclusion that is as creepy as it is inevitable. The film was part of that package of eight horror flicks that played here last October. If any of the others were this good, I hope they found distributors, too.

There is something clammy and oppressive about movies like this. You know that no matter how hard the characters try to escape, they are going to wind up back in the same place again. It’s a true nightmare, one in which you watch yourself sliding into the bad place but there’s nothing you can do to stop it from happening. The film has the logic of dreams, but not the release that comes from awakening. The pace is deliberate, but it pays off with a pair of money shots that will scare the hell out of you.

If you don’t believe in the concept of fate when you enter the theater, you certainly won’t want to believe in it when you leave.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=14899&reviewer=405
originally posted: 03/26/07 10:54:05
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2006 Toronto Film Festival For more in the 2006 Toronto Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2006 After Dark Horrorfest For more in the 2006 After Dark Horrorfest series, click here.

User Comments

7/18/11 Flipsider Dark and morose. Fair amount of atmosphere. More depressing than scary. 3 stars
2/18/09 gc good plot/atmosphere/cinemetography, made it feel realistic and scary 4 stars
6/05/08 tank1229 Creepy atmosphere so so story line worth watching 4 stars
11/17/07 David Pollastrini not great not terrible 3 stars
6/15/07 William Goss Despite some extra-loud portions, creepy atmosphere works wonders. 4 stars
5/21/07 porfle This is one of the scariest movies I've ever seen. 4 stars
2/26/07 the wizz um, have to admit, kinda scarey, but all in all... crap! 1 stars
2/26/07 Andrew B. Bosma Any serious horror aficionados should ignore brianorndorf's hypercrical review and see it. 4 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  23-Feb-2007 (R)
  DVD: 19-Jun-2007

UK
  N/A

Australia
  N/A (MA)




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