The Abandoned (2006)

This is a film from the After Dark Horror Fest that is considered by many to be one out of the pack. It’s a film that managed to grow apart from the horror festival and that seemed like a good thing. Is “The Abandoned” as great as I’d heard? I had to find out. Nacho Cerdà’s supernatural thriller reminded me very much of “Silent Hill,” except Cerdà doesn’t solely rely on visuals to keep the audience watching. What’s behind “The Abandoned,” is a morbid and utterly unnerving tale about murder, torture, and our fear of being alone in the world.

Set in Russia, Cerdà brings us into the deep bowels of the swamps to a large house Marie is set to inherit after attempting to search for the origins of her birth parents. She’s troubled, she’s lonely, and she just refuses to let her daughter live her own life, and hopes to somewhat fill a part of her she feels is void by discovering what ever became of her natural family. Cerdà really does manage to build tension and sheer suspense from the beginning, because of the subdued and awfully strong performance from Anastasia Hille who is very sympathetic as the tragic figure behind this horrifying tale. The house she is trapped in is far from anything we’d see in an average supernatural film. There aren’t many special effects, and Cerdà relies on the story to bring us through what is more a psychological trip through this woman’s life, than a genuine ghost story. An equal stalwart in the proceedings is Nicolai, played by the intense Karel Roden, who finds himself at the house along with her, and isn’t sure what is going on.

Marie can’t quite understand whether she should trust him or not, but as their time in the house passes, the events occurring become stronger and much more harrowing. They’re stalked relentlessly by undead doubles of themselves, and seem to be sucked up into the bowels of the house, the deeper and deeper they get into this investigation, and the entire time, Cerdà has audiences guessing. What is it all leading up to? “The Abandoned” is a definite fascinating and creepy mystery that leads up to a very surreal finale I enjoyed. Overall, I wish there could have been more to the story than what was there in the resolution.

To believe that the mystery is really the doing of this entity who composed all of this is pretty damn far-fetched and brings about a bunch of questions that are never really answered, and who the hell is that narrating in the climax? Regardless, “The Abandoned” takes a very long time to get to the point, and even then you’re wondering whether there is a surprising climax, or are just wasting your time on a concept you’ve seen time and time again in lesser supernatural horror films. The impatience very much kept me restless and anxious to see what the deal was. In spite of the caveat of being a mystery without much answers, “The Abandoned” is a surefire intelligent supernatural horror film with creeps, disturbing imagery, and very strong performances. It’s not hard to see why this trailed off from the After Dark festival, because it’s pretty well done.