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The setting is the star of Eytan Rockaway’s directorial debut set in a gloriously rundown apartment complex. As spooky as The Shining‘s Overlook Hotel and Rosemary Baby‘s Bramford, the location — actually multiple locations — of the atmospheric horror film The Abandoned is spectacular. It’s too bad that the same can’t be said about the story.
The central character, for some reason named Streak (Louisa Krause), is a young single mother coping with emotional demons and desperate to retain custody of her daughter. Needing employment, she takes a job as night watchman at the abandoned building where her only co-worker is Cooper (Jason Patric), her wheelchair-bound supervisor who monitors the site’s extensive closed-circuit camera system while she roams the cavernous environs.
RELEASE DATE Jan 08, 2016
As you might expect, things soon begin to go bump in the night as Streak makes her rounds and experiences terrifying visions which are accompanied by the sort of bone-rattling sound effects endemic to horror films of this variety. Not helping her frazzled nerves is the presence of a vaguely menacing homeless man (familiar character actor Mark Margolis, vividly memorable as always) who she’s allowed into the building for shelter from, you guessed it, a fierce storm.
The storyline hews to predictable dynamics before a late revelation about the building’s notorious history — think of Geraldo Rivera’s most famous televised scoop — leads to a supernatural element involving … well, no spoilers here. There’s also a climactic plot twist that put everything before it into a new perspective, albeit of the manipulative screenwriting variety.
Still, the film is effective for long stretches, mainly due to Rockaway’s superb use of his principal setting (kudos to production designer Akin McKenzie) that is vividly rendered via Zachary Geller’s expert, Steadicam-infused cinematography. Until she’s forced to deliver familiar horror-film reactions of frightened hysterics, Krause makes for an engaging heroine, and Patric makes his initially unlikeable character compelling with his now grizzled but still potent charisma.
Production: C Plus Pictures
Distributor: IFC Midnight
Cast: Jason Patric, Louisa Krause, Mark Margolis
Director: Eytan Rockaway
Screenwriter: Ido Fluk
Producers: Mike Landry, Carlos Velazquez, Eytan Rockaway
Executive producers: Gregory P. Shockro, Allen Loeb, Jeff Rice, Evan Brenner, Eric Brenner, Jeff Hoffman, Luigi Ghilardi II
Director of photography: Zachary Galler
Production designer: Akin McKenzie
Editor: Giacomo Ambrosini
Costume designer: Sarah Maiorino
Composer: Max Aruj
Casting: Stephanie Holbrook
Not rated, 88 minutes
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