The Abandoned is a triumphant ghost story that is as creative as it is frightening. Set in modern day Russian, the story revolves around a woman who bounced from foster family to foster family as a child who has been searching for her true family for many years. As the film begins she has arrived in Russia to meet with a man who has located her mother's death certificate and needs her to sign some paperwork granting her ownership of the farm her mother owned.
She hires a driver to take her to the remote farm which is located on an island surrounded by a large circular river. They arrive at night and when the driver leaves the truck to make sure there are no wild animals about the woman immediately begins seeing ghosts in her peripheral vision. She leaves the truck to find the driver, comes across the abandoned farm house (the building alone is scary enough for me) and soon realizes that the truck has left without her, leaving her alone in the house.
What follows is a unique take on the traditional ghost story. There are things "left unfinished" and there are issues of guilt and revenge, but they are handled much differently then in American or Asian ghost stories. The ghosts themselves are a great twist and are filmed in a way that is truly terrifying. In fact, the camera work is almost the biggest star in the film, making ordinary things like hallways and water seem horrible.
The story, as it winds towards the end, continues to threaten to move into a cheesy, formulaic way, but always finds a way to turn in a new direction at the last moment keeping the viewer on edge and tense. And, thankfully, the ending is satisfying.
This is a great movie, a wonderful ghost story and a creative triumph.
Once you get past the previews of the other 7 "Films to Die For" from this series from last year's Horrorfest, you get treated to probably the best ghost story caught on film since "The Shining".
As Complaint Dept. pointed out, the way that the ghosts are portrayed is different, and truly horrifying, but what's more, the way the ghosts are done is insightful and satisfying to the viewer's intellect. What's more, the heroine is a woman in her 40's instead of a bubbling idiot teenager which was a nice departure. There are no predictable little ghost kids popping out and very little in false scares. Without giving much away, as I am sure is shared by Complain Dept. is a bubbling excitement at the story behind the ghosts. It's not rocket science or anything, it was just plain cool.
While I didn't feel that it was all that scary of a film, it certainly was an interesting one. From the story, characters, actors and technical execution, "The Abandoned" stands out in a sea of crap.
- the fucking beard