Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
The Abandoned: Ghosts and Scary Homeless People
horror films are like franchise restaurants—location is key. Technically, a
number of creaky old courthouses and a Civil War bunker were edited together to
serve as the unfinished and uninhabited faux Gilded Age apartment complex, but
it still feels like a very real and creepy place. That setting generates a
whole lot of dread in Eytan Rockaway’s The
Abandoned (known as The Confines at
this year’s Los Angeles Film Festival, trailer here), which opens tomorrow
in select markets.
Streak is a single mother with a fistful of scripts from various psychiatrists.
She needs to make her new night guard gig work if she wants to continue to see
her daughter. That should not be a problem, considering her partner Cooper has
been there for years. He has a toxically bad attitude and also happens to
require a wheelchair. Their building should have been the poshest address in
the city, but the developers ran out of money. Now only a skeleton security
crew works there to keep out the tramps and squatters. Streak will do the patrolling,
while Cooper watches on the many closed circuit cameras. At least, that’s the
happened to pass one such vagrant on the way to her first day of work. Despite
his aggressive behavior, she lets him in when he asks for shelter from the
storm. In retrospect this will be a mistake. However, his hostile behavior
pales in comparison to the dark forces that start toying with her. It seems she
always had a sensitivity to spooky stuff and there is a heck of a lot of it in
designer Akin McKenzie and the location scouts deserve a good deal of credit
for Abandoned’s scariness. The vibe
and atmosphere are spot on throughout. As Streak and Cooper, Louisa Krause
(from Ava’s Possessions) and Jason
Patric bicker and sulk quite well together. Frankly, Rockaway keeps the tension
cranked up well into the late innings, rather exceeding genre norms. Unfortunately,
he tacks on a wholly unnecessary big twist ending that we’ve seen before and
don’t really need here. The film is effectively hair-raising without it.
To his credit, Rockaway does not overplay the
surveillance motif. In fact, his execution is rather strong overall. Cinematographer
Zack Galler further heightens the moody mysteriousness of a very technically
accomplished horror package. If nothing else, it should convince viewers not to
let strange homeless men into cavernous deserted buildings they are responsible
for keeping secure. Recommended for genre fans, The Abandoned releases tomorrow (1/8) in theaters and on VOD, from IFC Midnight.
Labels: Horror Movies