The Abandoned (2006 movie) review…

The Abandoned (2006 movie) review after the break…

The Abandoned (2006 movie) review…

There is nothing new about the “Your fate is inevitable” gimmick that films sometimes use. The gimmick is the primary hook for the film franchise, “Final Destination,” where hapless groups of teenagers avoid one calamity only to be ‘chased’ by “Fate” until they succumb (usually in a Rube Goldberg-esque fashion because, golly, ain’t it nifty to see someone’s demise unfold step-by-step?) to another one. “Final Destination,” though, isn’t the only example of Fate toying with it’s inevitable victims – A library of films and books enjoying rubbing audiences’ noses in doom and gloom, gleefully stringing the paying public along with the faint hint of escape (and redemption) only to deliver the mortal blow just as our hero is about to emerge free from their trials and tribulations.

It would be unfair, though, to criticize any gimmick because all gimmicks are prone to snark and heckling when reduced down to a mere sentence or two. “Boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets back girl” may well be it’s own category at Netflix. “Hero is good at job, tangles with villain who is a little better, sacrifices themselves for the good of community / family / girlfriend / whomever” may as well be a part of the Oscars and Golden Globes.

We have only ourselves, though, to blame for this pandemic of depressing conclusions. After decades of horror slasher films where the heroine always manages to find a way to defeat the seemingly unstoppable masked serial killer or how a ragtag, scrappy group of poorly equipped rebels manages to overcome the military might and efficiency of a brutal regime, the artsy-fartsy pendulum has sung back with a vengance towards “feel-bad” film making because, after all, as bad as you feel over the hero not winning in the end, it sucks to be them even more.

“The Abandoned” is a 2006 film that tries mightily to be a serious, “adult” (not in a pornographic way) horror film. An orphan, now a mother, is summoned back to Mother Russia where she was born so she can inherit the spooky farm from which she originated. The farm is abandoned and in poor condition, with good reason – Right off the bat, it’s a spooky place that lays the “creepy” on rather thick. There’s no guesswork here as the woman sees a creepy, waterlogged version of herself only mere moments upon entering the moat-entrenched farm property. Her supposed orphan brother, also summoned, is her only apparent ally as they try to understand and survive the possessed property while learning of how they became orphans in the first place.

“The Abandoned” isn’t filmed poorly or acted poorly; The scares (albeit predictable) are well produced, the scenery appropriate for both the movie and budget and the actors are good enough to sell the audience that they are who they are. If anything, it was rather refreshing that the film, once it got to the farm, started off fast with the scares instead of the usual tension and “bumps in the night” that most horror / suspense films attempt. One rather neat effect was when our heroine shines a flashlight beam over a lamp and the lamp changes as the light hits it. The flashlight beam effect was great but only used once or twice and didn’t have any great consequence in the film.

Where “The Abandoned” begins to abandon the audience (sorry, it had to be done) is when smarter viewers begin to recognize that all this movie has is the message that “Fate is inevitable” and nothing else. The message is clear – Everything is cyclical and inevitable (there’s even a neat moment when our heroine, late in the movie, bumps into our heroine early in the movie) but that, in itself, is the problem. Once the audience knows “the secret,” there’s nothing left for the audience to do but watch the grizzly ending and how many people enjoy rooting for “Fate”?

This movie would have been better served if the heroine had a chance to change fate somehow. It would have been nifty had our heroine had become the new woman who takes the children to safety in the truck. It would have been nifty had the brother felt compelled to become the new “father” who attempts to save the children but is perceived to be placing them in danger, thus the reason why they are taken. In fact, any deviation from the track of “these two guys are dead no matter what they do” would have been nifty but that’s not what happens.

There’s always an audience for a movie but it’s hard to imagine how large such an audience would be for a movie like this. After the gimmick is realized, the audience is left with a pretty movie with a pedestrian storyline that is, by no means, airtight. Why does the father want to kill the babies? How does the father, coming back from the dead, manage to impersonate a lawyer and a driver and go through all such machinations to bring the orphans back to the farm? Are the orphans now “dead dead” or will this cycle go on forever (at least, for them), the orphans constantly growing up only to go back to the farm to be killed?

“The Abandoned” may have nice scenery but it doesn’t have a novel storyline. In a day and age where it’s all been said and done before, “The Abandoned” abandons any attempt at structural originality. Teenagers like “inevitable death” movies with teenagers starring in them because it’s a safe way at experiencing death without the messy grieving and sorrow. Adults have no such alibis; They’ve had the early morning phone calls, the police at their front door or the doctor visits that have carried the weight of horrible and mortal reality. Without something else, “Your fate is inevitable” just doesn’t have that same resonance to adults that it has with teenagers. That’s ultimately the problem with “The Abandoned” – It doesn’t bring anything structurally unique to an audience who hasn’t already seen it before.

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