the abandoned | nacho cerda | karim hussain | richard stanley | anastasia hille | karel roden | valentin goshev | mystery | thriller | spain | united kingdom | bulgaria | 8 films to die 4 | eight films to die for | ghost | haunted | haunted house | paraskeva djukelova
Film: The Abandoned
Director: Nacho Cerdà
Writer: Karim Hussain, Nacho Cerdà and Richard Stanley
Starring: Anastasia Hille, Karel Roden and Valentin Goshev
This was an interesting film that I originally saw when it came out in the After Dark 8 Films To Die For film festival. It had been a long time since I had viewed it and didn’t remember a lot about it. I did know that I did enjoy it though. The synopsis is an adopted woman returns to her home country and the family home that she never knew and must face the mystery that lies there.
We start off with a family around a table in 1966. This is in Russia and they are having a meal. A sound is getting louder which turns out to be a truck. The driver has died and there are two babies that are in it.
The film then shifts to the present day. We meet our main character Marie Jones (Anastasia Hille). She has returned to Russia when she was contacted that information about her mother has been found. She meets with Andrei Misharin (Valentin Ganev). He explains to her that the changing of governments, people and information gets lost. She has been contacted, because her family owned a farm. She is there to check it out and try to find answers.
This is where the film has some ideas that I like. Russia was still the Soviet Union when this film started. Even during this film, I believe Russia was under Vladimir Putin and was a third world country at the time. Information could easily get lost there. This film builds suspense and horror from Marie going out to the family farm which is called The Island. Marie can’t swim and she is in a country where she doesn’t know the language. That helps with the isolated feel of the film for sure.
The film also has a surreal feel that when she gets to the farm, the man that brought her disappears. She goes into the house where she sees a figure that looks just like her, except the eyes are white. On top of that, the person is soaking wet. She tries to get away and falls into the river. She is saved by Nicolai (Karel Roden) who turns out to be her twin brother. She is distrustful of him, but they band together when they see an entity that looks like him, but his is all bloody. Nicolai shoots it in the leg and it wounds him as well. Things aren’t what they seem and start to change around them as they learn what happened to their parents on the day they were born.
There’s a curse in this film, which I thought was interesting. The reveals that come with it I thought were good. It definitely helps with that surreal feeling and the dread that comes with it as well. There is something to be said about the duality of the characters and the myth of seeing your doppelganger.
I will say that this film did have some pacing issues. The film itself kind of meanders at times. I don’t really know if they knew how they wanted to present this story. I do feel that it picks up as things are revealed and it sucks me in during the end of the second act and the start of the third act. I like how it ends as it does have quite bleak. I do feel that the story they are presenting is good.
The acting I thought was pretty good as well. Hille did a good job as the lead. She is really the only character that gets developed. The problem is that we really don’t get much of a character arch unless you consider how the film ends. Roden was fine. He is stronger, but he never really gets fleshed out. Ganev has an important role in this film, but he really only gets a couple minutes of screen time. I thought the mother, Paraskeva Djukelova, was good in the small role she played. The rest of the cast round out what they needed for the movie.
There’s not a lot in the way of effects for the film. We do get a scene of the climax where things are correcting themselves in the house, which I thought was well done. It is interesting as this idea was introduced earlier in the film as well. I thought the make-up of both character’s doppelgangers were good and made it look very creepy. There’s also a headshot in the film that looked quite real as well.
As for the score of the film, it does fit the scenes and what they needed. I wouldn’t say that it was a score that I would revisit outside of when I hear it in the film. I don’t have any problems with it. It just didn’t stand out to me.
Now with that said, this was a film that I like, but I will admit that it has its problems. I like the score though and the curse that is coming full circle. That was interesting as well as the mythos of the doppelgangers and what seeing them means. I did catch on to this very quickly and wasn’t sure if that was because I have seen this before. The acting is okay, but none of them were great. The editing of the film does have issues earlier on as it drags, but I thought it does pick up to a decent climax and ending. There’s not a lot in the way of effects, but the ones used were definitely good. The score doesn’t stand out, but it fits for what they needed from it. Overall I’d say that this is an above-average film. If this sounds interesting or you want to see all the films from the After Dark 8 Films to Die For, then I’d recommend giving this one a viewing. It might be a little slow for most though.
My Rating: 7 out of 10