A true example of cross-culture cinema, The Abandoned is an English-language Spanish film set in Russia, starring British actress Anastasia Hille (The Hole) and Czech actor Karel Roden (RocknRolla) in the lead roles. It marks the feature debut for director Nacho Cerdà, who co-wrote the film with the Canadian Karim Hussain (Subconscious Cruelty) and the South African Richard Stanley (The Island Of Dr. Moreau).
The movie follows Marie, an American film producer who arrives in Russia to learn more about her roots. There, a notary insists that she should go visit her old, decrepit family house in the middle of nowhere which she naturally does. Once there, she starts seeing strange things and eventually encouters Nikolai, her twin brother whe didn’t know about. Slowly, it becomes apparent that they’ll never manage to leave the island on which the evidently haunted house is built. Trailer and review after jump.
To his credit, Nacho Cerdà infuses his film with an appropriately creepy atmosphere and offers some rather beautiful shots of rural Russia. However, aesthetics, though important in horror movies, are not everything, and The Abandoned is significantly lacking in plot. It’s not that the story is non-existent, far from it, just that though the basic idea is good, it’s quite poorly developed.
Indeed, there are some neat ideas in the film, both visual (such the ghostly images being revealed only by flashlight) and storywise (can’t really get into that without revealing key plot points). Suffice it to say that the plot’s main ideas are interestingly similar to the underrated and overall better Silent Hill movie which came out the same year. Do yourself a favour and watch that film instead.
To sum up, I enjoyed the cinematography, but little else. It isn’t a horrible film but it’s far from being a great one, and while the acting and other aspects of the film are more than decent, and there are a few scary moments, the film’s content is zilch and you can find much better entertainment elsewhere. Hopefully, Nacho Cerdà will come up with a better script next time, as he’s obviously a talented guy.