The Abandoned (2006)
By: Markus Zussner on August 7, 2007  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
Eagle Entertainment (Australia). Region 4, PAL. 2.35:1 (16:9 enhanced). English DD 5.1, English DTS 5.1. 96 minutes
The Movie
Director: Nacho Cerdà Starring: Anastasia Hille, Karel Roden, Valentin Ganey, Paraskeva Djukelova Screenplay: Richard Stanley, Karim Hussain, Nacho Cerdà
Country: Spain/UK
Abandoned at birth, Marie Jones, born in Russia, raised in the UK, divorced in America, and mother of one, has just inherited a Russian farm house from the mother that she never knew. Heading to Russia (which happens to be Bulgaria), Marie embarks on a dark journey into her mysterious childhood past...

The farm house, a rundown old property that is located in a dense wooded area in the middle of Motherland-nowhere, sits on an area of land that is totally surrounded by water and the only access is a rickety old bridge that looks like it's going to collapse as soon as anyone drives across it. As you would expect, for the purposes of good storytelling, the bridge does collapse. Now Marie is stranded and totally isolated. Her truck driver disappears off the face of the earth, so Marie has little choice but to take refuge in her newly acquired but ill-appreciated estate, but she is not alone. And no, it's not the truck driver. Marie is scared out of her skin by the appearance of a frightening apparition that chases her around the derelict farm house. In an attempt to escape the clutches of the apparition Marie ends up running into a mysterious stranger who she instinctively KO's with a log from the fireplace. After the stranger wakes up with a splitting headache, he reveals to Marie that he is her twin brother Nicolai and he also has been lured to the isolated farmhouse. Nicolai tells Marie that he arrived at the farm house two days earlier and Nicolai also has been seeing horrible figures shuffling around the house. As the night darkens and the clouds thicken, both Marie and Nicolai will encounter all things sinister and disconcerting that rot and creep behind the decrepit farm house walls. Their past is about to unearth itself and a night of utter terror will be unleashed.

Whoa, what a trip this movie was. Ultimately, it's a very nasty haunted house movie with a subtle peppering of Silent Hill and a touch of that good old doppelganger theme running through it. The Abandoned stands tall with the best of the haunted house movies that have been made, but with a few other interesting things going on. When there is nothing freaky going on (and that's not too often) the movie is carried along with great strength from a strong script and superb cinematography from The Machinist's Xavi Gimenez, who creates a visual feast of decay, isolation, depression and uneasy fear. There are only two characters in this movie, and both Anastasia Hille and Karel Rodencarry the film with the professional confidence of a pro-wrestling tag team. The farm house, in a state of constant ruin and disrepair, never lets you forget for one moment just how down-right creepy, unwelcoming and isolated this old shack really is. It feels so in-the-middle-of-nowhere it might as well be the dark side of the moon. Maintaining these queasy uneasy feelings throughout the duration of the entire film is one of The Abandoned's strong points. Once this movie gets going, and it doesn't take long for that, it keeps on pushing through to the end like a bulldozer with rockets. The films' ending reaches a logical and comprehensible conclusion which is anything but subtle. The conclusion - uncompromising and grim.
The 16:9 Anamorphic picture is crystal clear. No grain or haze which is good news for a production that is set mostly in the dark or at night as most horror flicks are. The Abandoned has a similar visual style to The Machinist thanks to Xavi Gimenez - grim.
Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS 5.1. The Abandoned boasts top quality sound, especially on the DTS 5.1 format. The house and countryside really come alive on this soundtrack. The rustling of trees, whistling of the wind, the creaking and groaning of boards and the turning of screws just ooze from the speakers, thus heightening the suspense and terror throughout to extreme levels. Turn it up loud for fright effect.
Extra Features
Nothing more than an Image Gallery and Trailers for other Eagle releases.
The Verdict
Seeing double. The Abandoned is a visually stunning dour-de-force horror house flick. It's choc full of nasty visuals with a relentless and foreboding atmosphere of fear and dreaded isolation. Powerful performances from Anastasia Hille and Karel Roden add immensely to the quality of this intelligent and scary piece of work. If there were ever a moral to this story it would almost certainly be, 'ignorance is bliss'. Don't ignore The Abandoned.
Movie Score
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