An American woman searching for her birth parents learns she has inherited a house in the middle of a forest in a remote area of Russia. It is the house where she was born. Abandoned and uninhabited for 40 years, it stands in total disrepair and neglect. What she finds is more than an old house. She meets a mysterious man claiming to be her twin brother and together they find the house holds dangerous secrets to a past they don't even remember. They are forced to relive a series of horrifying events and shocking murders that occurred just after they were born, and in the place where they were supposed to die.
The Abandoned is a surreal, artistic ghost story set in the picturesque Russian wilderness. Penned by Karim Hussain and Nacho Cerda, The Abandoned is Cerda's first full length feature film, following 12 years after the beautiful, grotesque and compelling short film "Aftermath".
The Abandoned follows an American woman, Marie, as she travels to Russia on a path of self discovery - inheriting a family estate from her unknown biological parents. Though disinterested in the property itself, Marie is drawn to the isolated island farmhouse in search of some sort of explanation of the circumstances that led to her abandonment. Once there, she discovers the horrible truth about her family, her long lost brother, and that she is now trapped by the property, which has an evil and powerful consciousness. Marie is tormented by her doppelganger - a ghostly representation of herself and an omen of her own death.
This film is not typical Hollywood horror fare. There are no teenagers, no glamorization of the actors, no haunted house staples like flies, clanking chains and spooky dark haired children, and - most importantly - no happy endings. The Abandoned derives it's scares from the subconscious, playing upon the confusion and illusion created by our own nightmares. The reality in the Abandoned is skewed and distorted, creating a surreal non-linear ghost story. Cerda's vision is heavily influenced by the metaphysical and multidimensional symbolism utilized by Lucio Fulci, of whom Cerda is a noted fan. The Abandoned preys upon the fear and trepidation that nightmares cause - you can't wake up, you can't escape, nothing makes sense, and the more your mind grasps for some understanding, the further entrenched in the dream you become.
The Abandoned is stylistically filmed with stunning and gritty cinematography, and an understated but tension-inducing score and sound design. The visual effects are used sparingly, creating some unmistakably gruesome and shocking scenes in the final climax.
Cerda's vision is a chilling and disturbing film that elicits fear from the viewer's own subjective sentiments of identity, mortality and destiny. It is far superior, in every way, to any of the mainstream fare offered to the masses these days.
Since Aftermath, and the follow-up short film Genesis (a remarkably different but equally compelling story), Cerda has achieved a cult following among genre fans for his trilogy of creepy short films, while at the same time being stigmatized for his unique visions. The large gap in his filmmaking can be attributed to that stigma, resulting in a great deal of difficulty getting a feature-film released. Lion's Gate entertainment gave the Abandoned a disappointing limited theatrical release in February of this year, and released the DVD on July 19. Don't miss this one!
Written by: Nacho Cerda and Karim Hussain Directed by: Nacho Cerda Starring: Anastasia Hille, Karel Roden, Valentin GaneyRead more ›
Scary! Not a teenage slasher pic which is only bloody and tasteless, this film is actually an intricate horror/ghost flick. A woman goes to Russia seeking her roots and ends up in the house in which she was born 42 years earlier. The house has been abandoned and yet it is occupied by ghosts who cannot be destroyed. She meets her father, mother and brother there and the story of her birth and roots unfolds in flashbacks and scary moments.
It's not Psycho, the scariest movie of them all -- but it's darn good -- a complete suprise to me who figured our "The Others" in the first 15 minutes. This movie leads the viewer from scene to scene through the seeker's eyes. She never knows what is real and what is a ghostly memory of her past. This is also a mystery. Why are the occupants of this abandoned house still there? Why has she been summoned there 42 years later? Why does the lawyer who summoned her to Russia in response to her enquiries look exactly like the ghost of her father? Why is there a woman there who looks like a etherial version of herself?
We're given clues, but I had to watch the film twice to pick more of them up, e.g., the woman couldn't swim.
Why didn't the woman's daughter, Emily, come with her to Russia? That's what the 'father' asks. Why does the ghost of father want the family back together and why for her birthday at age 42? Who is her twin brother and why is he there, too? Why does it appear the mother was murdered and yet ...? What is real and what is unreal? What is present and what is the past? The woman in her birth home struggles to unravel the secrets of her Russian past. In the end she succeeds to some degree but is that the end?
I'll have to watch it again. There are still clues I missed. This is not a simple ghost story where the bad ghosts are out to get the good woman. This is not a slasher story although there is some blood and gore. This is not just a woman solving a simple mystery of her roots. This is not a simple haunted house story. This is an A1 mystery/haunted house/ghost story with an ending that leave the viewer longing to watch it again.
Scenery comment: The lighting and the special effects are minimal yet lure the viewer deeper into the mystery. I thorouhgly enjoyed "The Sixth Sense" but in the end one had the answer to the mystery. In "The Abandoned" I suspect it will take several viewings to solve the mystery and figure out what is present and what is past; what is real and what is surreal. I'm just going to have to buy this one to find out.Read more ›
I was pleasantly surprised that "8 Films to Die For: After Dark Horrorfest" 2006 actually made it to the Zenith City last November. I went to all of the afternoon shows, so basically it was the same bunch of us watching each film. I bought all my tickets up front so I have the t-shirt, which features art that has nothing to do with any of the films. We just about memorized the one trailer that they showed us nine times (if you had all eight ticket stubs or your face was well known to the cashier you got to see a ninth film, "Snoop Dog's Hood of Horror"), and dissected each film and talking about our current favorites with "Audition" being the prime recommendation. We also made our predictions for which film would be selected as the one of the eight that would get a real theatrical run.
"The Abandoned" was not our choice, although it was certainly in the top half of that weekend's offerings (I would rank it third out of the eight). Our favorite was "Penny Dreadful" by director Richard Brandes, because we thought it made the most of a rather simple situation: crazed killer traps terrified teen (Rachel Miner) by wedging the car she is in between two trees in a forest so she cannot get out and we were impressed by what all they came up with in that confined situation. Our prediction was "Dark Ride," which starred Jamie-Lynn Sigler, because we thought it was the most commercial of the bunch. After "Dark Ride" and "The Gravedancers" we had this running riff about how the climax of a film involved the heroine driving a truck through a building at the right time (and place). So when "The Abandoned" started with a woman driving an old truck up to a farm house in Russia and dropping dead, leaving the farmer to find a pair of infants in the truck we were laughing how the truck element was becoming a dominant theme in these movies, epitomized by "Penny Dreadful."
"The Abandoned" is one of those movies where the prologue is a prelude to the main action of the film, which takes place four decades later. Marie (Anastasia Hille) has grown up in America and when she learns she has inherited the house in which she was born she heads for a remote forest in Russia. There she finds a house that has been neglected pretty much since the day she was born. There she meets Nikolai (Karel Roden), who claims to be the twin brother she never knew about. Obviously these are the two babies who were in the truck when their dying mother delivered them to safety. Together they will uncover the past they were too young to remember, and learn why the abandoned house if haunted by not only their past, but by what appears to be their futures as well.
This 2006 horror film is directed by Nacho Cerda ("Aftermath," "Genesis"), with a script by Cerda, Karim Hussain ("Ascension"), and Richard Stanley ("The Island of Dr. Moreau"). This is a Spanish production (which explains cinematographer Xavi Gimenez, whose work was far and away the best of the Horrorfest), filmed in Bulgaria passing for Russia, but with most of the dialogue is in English. The rural setting of the main action is of more importance than the foreign local, but it is also different to have the two main characters be a pair of fortyish siblings, which means a horror film with neither teen angst nor romantic entanglements. True, you could make the two characters twentish or thirtish without changing anything essentially to the story, but having the leads being basically twice the age of your normal main characters in a horror film does lend a certain gravity to things. A lot of what happens here is disturbing, based more on our understanding of what is going on, and not by a driving interest in engaging our gag reflexes by showing blood and guts.
There is what can be considered a science fiction element thrown into the end game, somewhat unnecessarily I think, but for me the film's flaw lies elsewhere. I fully admit that it might not bother most people but for me it was one of those moments where I roll my eyes and (to clean up the phrase) request I be provided with a respite from sexual intercourse. It has to do with the revelation of how Marie was brought from America to Russia for all these fun and games. I understand the whole idea of vengeance from beyond the grave and that somebody can be more powerful after death, but better educated? That I cannot buy. I was still shaking my head over that one when the film finished, which is why I was no longer having to decide to round up or round down on the film. Still, all things considered, "The Abandoned" is different enough from the usual fare of horror films for aficionados to check out. I fully admit that I never would have seen it in a theater if it had not been part of the Horrorfest ride, but then except for the "Saw" films I watch pretty much all of my horror films late at night on DVD and this one is at least worth checking out on that basis.Read more ›