Hey gang, Valkor here. A couple of weeks ago, I negatively reviewed the film “At Granny’s House”, which garnered a response from one its film crew. In short it stated that “I didn’t understand” the film or certain aspects of it as it pertained to "The Bad" section. But I stand on the position that it’s their job to make it understandable. So, how does it relate to the next film on deck? Well in “Abandoned Dead”, we’re dealt a similar hand; not so much with the story, just that the film will leave you scratching your head and asking the question: what did I just watch? Heavy spoilers ahead!
“Abandoned Dead” focuses on a security guard for hire Rachel Burke (Sarah Nicklin), who has just been given a last minute job of guard duty at a methadone clinic, in a seedy side of town. From the jump, she’s creeped out by the place. And with good reason because no sooner does she settle do things get weird – a knock on the door, a skinned cat on the doorstep and when a strange man with a twisted face crawls into and out of existence, the terror level rises to “supernatural”. What do these forces want of Rachel?
Before we get into that let’s quickly switch gears to Detective Phillip Haggis, who is investigating an unexplained, grim murder. There’s even a point where he sorta goes noir with Haggis having an internal dialogue... for some reason. However, much of his screen time is spent walking around and answering pay phones with a spooky voice that answers “she isn’t safe”. So, what’s his connection to Rachel?
Turns out, the entire event (minus the detective) exists within the mind of Rachel; as a child, Rachel was sexually abused by her father. And one night, when he goes into her room to “do the deed”, she kills him. So, Rachel spends the rest of her days locked in a psychiatric ward with the memories of the incident locked away inside her. But under the care of Dr. Myers (Judith O’Dea), we learn that Rachel is starting to get her memory back. And soon she’ll be able to not only confront with what her father had done to her but what she did to her father. The film ends with the detective, who finds a box with all of Rachel’s and her dad’s things (I’m guessing) - one of those items is the diary that was given to her by Dr. Meyers. At this point, I wasn’t sure if the detective exists or is he a part of Rachel’s subconscious…
If there’s one positive I can give to “Abandoned Dead”, is that Sarah Nicklin puts on an outstanding performance in how she deals with a “woman in a box” type tale, which is amazingly well, with a natural look of terror in her eyes. But unlike “Riddle Room”, Rachel has a much larger box to play with – inside and out. Yet she handles the supernatural thriller with great stride. Well done!
“Abandoned Dead”... I get where you were going with the whole “the mind is just as scary – if not a scarier place – than reality” type of theme. However, the film comes across more confusing than it does scary. We get hints of Rachel’s past in flashbacks mixed in with her dealing with her current spooky situation, but trying to piece it all together before the ending becomes more frustrating than entertaining. Why? Because this is supposed to be a story of a woman who is trapped in a building with… something! Not “a woman trapped in a building... no, it’s all in her head” - it doesn’t work for me. And I can’t see it working for anyone else. Then you toss in the wandering cop and it’s even more perplexing because the guy literally does nothing. And the part with his internal dialogue… I laughed. It doesn’t add anything to the film. His existence doesn’t add anything to film and none of it helps to move the story other than we, as the viewer, know he’s hunting someone. And that someone might be in the building with Rachel. I thought maybe this cop will come and save the day, but it doesn’t happen, so what was the point of it all? I really don’t know! And honestly, after multiple viewings, I really don’t care. I get this film (the idea), I simply don’t get it overall (the beginning doesn’t mesh with the conclusion).
The dude who gets acid splashed on his face. Actually, that was an odd scene because the glass jar broke and none of that acid hit Rachel… I guess that’s all a part of the dream?
“Abandoned Dead” is available now through Amazon Instant; and it’s zero thrills, zero chills, zero scares but plenty of confusion than it needs to be. And out of TOV 5 stars, I’ll give Abandoned Dead a 1.5.