When a celebrity passes away it seems we focus on the good that the person did while on Earth and not the bad. A noble thought and one that should be so, but when the case in point is an actor, we then have to deal with the work they left behind, the final films that were yet to be released. Such is the case with ABANDONED and actress Brittany Murphy who was found dead last year. Already completed, the film has just been released on DVD with little or no promotion. Perhaps that's for the best as the film offers nothing new to the thriller genre and a performance that seems phoned in rather than well done by the late Ms. Murphy.
Murphy stars as Mary, a young bank executive on the way to the hospital with her new boyfriend Kevin (Dean Cain) who is due for orthopedic surgery. The hospital is in the process of closing and moving to a new location, but this outpatient surgery shouldn't take more than an hour or so. At least that's what the nurse who takes Kevin's forms tells Mary as she heads to the lounge to wait.
While waiting she meets a nice older man named Cooper (Tim Thomerson) and they talk about his wife and her chemo as well as the hospital. He gives her a few words of reassurance and moves on. After a few hours, Mary heads upstairs concerned that she hasn't had word on Kevin. To her surprise, the nurses on that floor inform her that there according to the computers Kevin is not a patient in the hospital.
After doing a search of the facility on her own while observed by security, Mary is directed to the head of the hospital Mrs. Markham (Mimi Rogers) who gets security to run the tapes of the cameras throughout the hospital for Mary. The only inkling of Kevin walking in is a shoulder shot that could or could not be him. When a police detective named Franklin (Jay Pickett) is called on the scene, they find that Mary is on anti-depressants and suddenly we're left to wonder if perhaps Kevin was imaginary or not.
Taken to be interviewed by the hospital psychiatrist on staff, Dr. Bensley (Peter Bogdanovich), he diagnoses her as mental and in need of observation. But Mary is certain that she's not losing her mind. She knows that Kevin is real. But if so, who is behind his disappearance and why? Is the entire staff of the hospital involved in some major conspiracy or is Mary just not quite all there?
Yes, this sort of story has been done before and better to boot. Rather than offer effective pacing that holds your interest, this movie crawls along at a snails pace and never offers the clues needed to make it an effective mystery. Instead it tries to build up the idea that Mary could be mad, but never does so convincingly or with enough support to make the viewer think that that is the case. We've seen this before, we know she can't be!
Murphy offers little to make this movie believable as well. Her performance seems one note, as if she were walking through it in a daze. The character would have come off better had she not seemed so out of it from the first scene until the last. And her appearance seems more like that of a groupie on the strip than a banking executive, making her even more unbelievable.
I would talk about Dean Cain here but why bother? He seems like a nice, likeable guy but this movie won't do much to raise his star level above direct to video titles. Rogers, a talented actress, is wasted here with nothing more than a few lines. Thomerson (who I think has always been much better than the roles he's been given) does a solid job here but again, the movie itself waste everyone's time and effort.
The film is dedicated at the end to Ms. Murphy. One would do better to revisit the other films she made like CLUELESS or SIN CITY than to remember her for this film.