The Abandoned (2015) **
D: Eytan Rockaway
C: Louisa Krause, Jason Patric, Mark Margolis, Ezra Knight, Lou Carbonneau
Plot Synopsis: An unstable woman (Louisa Krause) discovers a horrifying presence in the bowels of a decaying building where she works as a security guard.
Review: The Abandoned opens with a classic horror movie hook. Two characters, walking around, in a big, creepy building, in the middle of the night, with spooky things happening around them and for about two third's of its running time, it's successful in executing that premise.
The principal setting, a lavish apartment complex, that now sits abandoned, is certainly creepy enough. The film is smart to know that this setting is creepy in a darkened setting. So, they keep the dialogue minimal, infuse it with just enough character development so that you actually care about the characters and then allow for the characters to walk around this creepy setting.
The characters, who are security guards, have to traipse about this building. The elevators and security cameras never quite work the way they're supposed to. There's faint whispers heard even though no one else is around. Tension generates, then becomes palpable and right when things should be getting really good, things start to fall apart.
After taking the time to lay out a foundation, to establish how creepy the setting is, to watch the characters partake in creepy scenarios, its as though the writer ran out of ideas. It's around this time that they try to explain what's going on. However, these explanations come across as ridiculous. The characters get caught in ridiculous situations related to these ridiculous explanations. There's attempts at ridiculous emotional payoffs, but the worst offender is the ending itself. It's a ridiculously corny moment that tries to sentimentalize everything that we've watched.
No matter what explanation they offered, it probably wouldn't have been satisfactory anyway. When the characters are walking around in the dark, in a creepy setting, it allows for the viewer's imagination to go into overdrive as they try to figure out what's going on. What a viewer imagines in their own head is always going to be far more frightening then anything they actually see or that's explained to them.
Think back to when you was a kid and something scared you. What scared you more? Was it the sense of the unknown or when you actually faced that fear? I'm willing to bet it's the former. The more you see something, the more they talk about it, the less frightening it becomes. That's what makes the first two third's of The Abandoned so effective is, because we don't know what lurks in the darkness of this creepy apartment building. Once the film tells us what's in the building, that creepiness begins to dissipate.
The Abandoned is an hour or so of genuinely suspenseful moments before it goes off the rails in a final act that's more laughable than scary. [Not Rated] 86 minutes.
AKA: The Confines
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