Sunday, October 18, 2015

The Abandoned [2015]

MPAA (R)  Fr. Dennis (3 Stars)

IMDb listing (M. Klug) review

The Abandoned [2015] (directed by Eytan Rockaway [wikip] [IMDb], screenplay by Ido Fluk [IMDb]) is an excellent small well-constructed indie horror film of the Twilight Zone [1959-1964] [wikip] [IMDb] vein that played recently at the 2015 (51st Annual) Chicago International Film Festival.

We're introduced to Streak (played by Louisa Krause) a woman in her early 20s talking to her mother on the cell-phone as she walks down a rather empty "concrete and steel" urban district on a grey (overcast) late afternoon to a "job interview" for a "security job" in one of said "concrete and steel" grey buildings.  She's not particularly excited about the job, but her mother reminds her that she needs to get this job or child services will come to take her, Streak's little girl, Clara, away.

Now being a security guard does not necessarily require a particularly large skill set, but it's DEFINITELY NOT for everybody, and it becomes rather quickly clear that Streak may not be necessarily the best candidate for that job.  There's clearly a reason why "child services" is threatening to take her kid away, and when at the first sign of creepiness while walking, flashlight in hand, through a big, dark and largely abandoned building, she starts reaching for her "anti-anxiety meds," one gets the message.  But there she is, SHE NEEDS A JOB.

Her presumed future boss is clearly not picky.  He's there long enough to (1) give her "a whistle and a flashlight" (okay, also a uniform and presumably a taser); (2) introduce her to her soon-to-be partner, Cooper (played by Jason Patric), who's been working there long enough to quickly tell her that SHE'S going to be "doing the walk arounds" while HE "holds fort, 'manning' the screens;" and (3) tell her _something_ of the large building that she and "Cooper" would be protecting each evening.  That building was clearly once intended to be opulent, but, alas, thanks to the 2008 Financial Crash, was now "still born" / "on life support" UNFINISHED, BARRICADED / CLOSED, EMPTY and yet, still around because its owners (represented by the "boss" referred to above) were not entirely sure about what to do next.

Oh yes, and those clouds casting a late afternoon pall over the city as Streak was walking to her interview / new job, were coalescing into a storm.  So it LITERALLY becomes a "dark and stormy night ..." ;-)

Okay, we're given a very good, indeed, quite classic "scary story" set up.  And it could go all sorts of ways from there, from Steven King's The Shining [wikip 1] [2] [IMDb], to Quentin Tarantino's From Dusk to Dawn [wikip] [IMDb], to a less "monster-y" more "psychological thriller-like" Twilight Zone [1959-1964] [wikip] [IMDb] direction.  The path chosen by the film makers here was the latter and the film's a reminder that a lot of great special effects are not necessary to make a movie that can make one's skin crawl.  Good job ;-)

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