The expertly crafted 2007 haunted-house movie THE ABANDONED puts an original sheen on the well-worn tradition of the haunted house flick. Shot in Bulgaria but set in Russia, the movie centers around Marie (Anastasia Hille), an American born in Russia and abandoned as an infant. Marie returns to Russia 40 years later to visit the family estate with her brother, Nicolai (Karl Roden), who was also abandoned, but raised in Russia. Together they explore the old homestead in the hopes of rediscovering their pasts and unearthing the truth about the family they never knew. Like any haunted-house movie worth its salt, THE ABANDONED is all about the psychic residue left in the house following a tragedy. In this case, the spirit of Marie and Karl's father has summoned them back to the family home in order to finish the foiled infanticide he was attempting decades ago.
The manifestations of the past--i.e. the things that go bump in the night--are terrifying. Director Nacho Cerda's cinematic "boo!s" come at the least expected moments and in unique forms, and his unflinching shots of Marie and Karl's decaying yet persistent doppelgangers offer some of the most chilling images in the movie. Ultimately, THE ABANDONED works because it takes viewer by surprise on so many levels. Thrills and chills abound, but they are delivered in unexpected ways. While the premise isn't entirely original and the script isn't completely free of holes, it is expertly made from a purely filmic standpoint, and there is something unavoidably chilling about the idea of never escaping one's past, particularly when the past is as horrific as the one depicted in THE ABANDONED.
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