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In 1966, somewhere in Russia, a wounded woman drives a truck to an isolated farm with two babies. Forty years later, the film producer Marie Jones leaves her daughter in California and travels back to her home land in the wilderness of Russia. Marie is one of the children and had received a phone call from the notary public Andrei Misharin, who told her where the farm of her family is located. Marie arrives at the abandoned house and meets the stranger Nicolai, who tells her that he had also received a call from Misharin and he is her twin brother. Weird things happen in the house and Marie and Nicolai are haunted by zombie-like ghosts of themselves. Further, they find that they are trapped in the house and can not leave the place.Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
The Abandoned was billed as the fan favorite of the Horrorfest (i.e., 8 Films to Die For) that occurred in late 2006. Most of the rating lists that I have seen from posters on IMDb have ranked The Abandoned very high, while ranking the Japanese film Reincarnation in the middle of the pack. I personally thought that Reincarnation was very good, so I figured that the re-release of The Abandoned would give me the opportunity to experience what everyone has been talking about. After the show one thing is for certain: The Abandoned could not have been the best film at the Horrorfest, because Reincarnation runs circles around this film in terms of storyline and entertainment value.
This film had everything it needed as far as atmosphere is concerned. The woodland areas, the river, and the house were perfect to build atmosphere and a sense of dread. Unfortunately, the filmmakers were too impatient to allow the fantastic environment to mature and reach the viewer in full effect. A character would be walking in the dimly lit forest, and just when I began to take in the atmosphere, the filmmakers would intrude with an excessively loud scream or noise for no apparent reason. There were so many "false scares" in this film that they effectively mitigated any atmospheric effect whatsoever. In other words, the filmmakers "prematurely ejaculated" with stupid sound effects before the viewer was able to reach "atmospheric orgasm."
Ironically, there were probably a dozen or so "jump-out-of-your-seat" scares during the first portion of the film, and most of them were in situations with no real danger. For example, the opening scene shows a few babies crying in a truck, which transitions to an airplane arriving at an airport. Regrettably, the director couldn't stand by and allow such a transition to pass without cranking up the damn sound to the point where my eardrums were ready to explode. The filmmakers are apparently stupid enough to think that scene transitions with sonic booms clocking in at over 200 decibels are somehow entertaining.
Perhaps the most common method of premature sound ejaculation in The Abandoned is the use of voices coming from nowhere. These voices begin at a whisper and crescendo to a loud scream in between scenes. Instead of just allowing the scene transition to occur, the filmmakers would use these idiotic gimmicks to make the viewer jump in their seat before continuing on to the next chapter. Imagine someone sneaking up behind you in a store, only to then scream in your ear and startle you. Any no-talent hack can do that. It's not scary. They're just being a jerk. That's what The Abandoned is a jerk who annoys you at their every opportunity.
It's really too bad, because the concept that presents itself at the very end of the film is quite good. It's a blending of doppelgangers and premonitions that works well for the few seconds that it presents itself, but everything leading up to that point is nothing more than 90 minutes of sonic booms and premature ejaculations.
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