“I didn’t think there was ever a chance I would say this, but I would rather watch The Hollow, a SyFy made for T.V. movie focused on special effects with no thought for writing, acting or directing than The Abandoned. Or for that matter even The Damned. My entire world has been turned upside down. There is no possible way I could have found a more boring, less believable, unoriginal and derogatory movie than The Abandoned. I guess someday I may be saying that about another movie, as I am now, but it boggles my mind to think so.” – 1.2/5 (genre)
I’m not even sure where to start with this movie. Whether we take its view on mental illnesses, mental and physical disabilities, women in the workplace, or even just the “surprise” ending: This movie got it wrong. The Abandoned is, and I apologize for the horrible pun, a movie I wish I had abandoned after the first 15 minutes. By this point it was obvious that this was going to be a bad one, but despite my better judgement I pushed through. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
The Abandoned is about Julia Streak (Louisa Krause), a woman with some kind of mental illness that could be anything from simple anxiety to schizophrenia. What she has is never explained, only that she is on anti-psychotics, and it’s obvious from the onset that the writer(s) take a dim view of mental illness. Julia is on her way to her new job as a night time security guard at what was to be an upscale set of condo’s/apartments for the very wealthy but was never fully finished after the economic down turn. The building itself is quite beautiful from the shots we’re given, and I’m not quite sure if it’s a set, location, or a combination of both. At any rate this is the one thing this movie did right, setting (at least the upstairs building, the rest was on the nose tropes). Julia speaks briefly with her mother on the phone where we learn she has a daughter named Clara, and if Julia doesn’t get it together and keep this job, and stop being “crazy”, she’s going to lose her daughter. And that is the sum total of the stories plot, that is our entire connection to the main protagonist.
So what about the other characters? There are so few that I feel like I can spend a little time on them. The homeless man is yet again another stab (whoops, another pun) at mental illness and the stigma that this movie wants to reattach to it. Then there’s Cooper (Jason Patric), the other security guard that Julia will be working with. He is an arrogant, obnoxious, sexist man who badgers Julia from the moment she meets him. Here we get to see him treat her like she doesn’t belong, and though it’s passed off as him disliking her for being a college brat that won’t last a week, it really seems, if the poster of the half-naked woman on the wall (what employer allows that?) is any indication, that he doesn’t believe she should be in the job simply because she is a she. Information is later revealed about him to make us more sympathetic, but by this point I disliked him so intensely I probably wouldn’t have cared if he was set on fire and thrown in front of a truck (this doesn’t happen, sorry).
What makes Cooper even worse is that he is portrayed by the only actor in the movie that is believable in his role. Julia () is so poorly acted, and not helped by the dismal writing, that I was never able to form any attachment to her. Despite my desire to because of how she was being treated by the writers, I couldn’t get any traction on caring what happened to her one way or the other, which lead to the second most severe problem with the movie.
There is a combination of long drawn out scares with jump scares, none of which every really work. There are of course some exceptions: The first is in the elevator when Julia gets stuck and she hears voices and footsteps inside with her but sees no one, this happens pretty early on and gave me some hope. It would have been better had this not occurred as it made the later horror/suspense elements even less interesting. The second is when the boy appears in front of Julia as she is crying and speaks with her. This was intense for about two sentences and then the awful writing/acting combo kicked in and complete deconstructed any sense of impending terror.
Mild spoiler but it should be pointed out that Julia finds a room on the blue prints (where did they come from because they weren’t there when she arrived and I never saw Cooper retrieve them) that Cooper insists doesn’t exist. Really? Are you sure about that Cooper, because five seconds later you admit it’s existence by stating you were told not to go down there. Consistency thy name is Cooper. Julia ignores him, finds the room, which turns out to be an entire sub-basement area filled with beds, school chairs and children’s drawings and then all hell breaks lose. Well sort of, actually very slowly hell breaks lose. Okay, so it kind of slowly lumbers out at a snails pace and forgets that it’s supposed to be hell and decides to leave. I may have stretched that metaphor a bit much but you get the idea.
The Abandoned does deserve some credit for diving headlong into horror movie tropes with unwavering exactness, that one might actually mistake this for being on purpose. Every possible (within the setting) element that could have been taken from a horror or suspense movie since the 70’s was thrown in here and because it became such a mish-mash of plot lines and attempted scares and it was almost laughable. In fact I think I would have laughed at much of it were it not for yet another social commentary on the mentally and physically disabled. Though it was obviously trying to portray the children as victims the movie really only managed to make them seem as if they were the problem and not the system that abused them. I can’t even begin to explain how this was possible in the disgusting rabbit hole (I am so sorry Lewis Carroll) that this movie became, but somehow they pulled it off and gave us abused children seeking retribution. Where have I heard that before? At any rate, the movie made them out to be the villains, but not so much because they were seeking revenge but because of what they were. I guess that is original, albeit not the intent. The one thing that did make me chuckle is the reporter sporting a serious 70’s look, and attempting to pull off a Tom Selleck mustache. You sir are not Tom Selleck, period. Now go shave off that mustache.
There’s little to be said for the acting. If I was looking to make my own low budget horror movie I’d be more inclined to go to a local High school drama club and hire them as actors for it than those in this movie. I would say it must have been the writing, but …(Julia) was so unbelievable that even the best writer or director in the world couldn’t have gotten a good performance out of her. She never felt sincere, and this led to me not caring about her. About 15 minutes from the ending I was begging the movie to just kill her and be over, or me whichever would be faster. Pull a The Ring move and jump out of the damn T.V. and do me in because your extreme level of boredom is having the same effect.
The ending. I wish I was surprised by the ending, it may have made the quagmire that we have to wade through to get there worth it, but sadly it was just disjointed and so uninspired that it made me dislike this movie even more. If the rest of the movie had been good and then this ending happened I could probably forgive it, sometimes it can be really hard to wrap up something neatly. No problem here, everything in a nice little bow, right down to the homeless man. Except for, well if you watch it you’ll see, the last few seconds just raise so many questions, and then you remember that you really don’t care anymore.
I didn’t think there was ever a chance I would say this, but I would rather watch The Hollow, a SyFy made for T.V. movie focused on special effects with no thought for writing, acting or directing than The Abandoned. Or for that matter even The Damned. My entire world has been turned upside down. There is no possible way I could have found a more boring, less believable, unoriginal and derogatory movie than The Abandoned. I guess someday I may be saying that about another movie, as I am now, but it boggles my mind to think so.
Avoid The Abandoned at all costs, you’ll regret it otherwise and not because it will give you nightmares. Well maybe it will, but they’ll be nightmares about being trapped in the least scary dank dungeon you’ve ever been in.
Overall: 1.2/5 (genre specific)