Another dysfunctional family is reunited in The Abandoned, a Spanish-produced English language film from Filmax and director Nacho Cerdá. Highly anticipated for several years because of the success Cerdá achieved with a pair of highly influential, disturbing, and elegiac short films, Abandoned originally started life as a screenplay entitled Bloodline. After an ambitious sales reel-cum-trailer premiered at the 2002 Sitges Film Festival, Bloodline went through a series of budgetary and screenplay revisions and has resurfaced as this shot-in-Bulgaria feature about Marie, an American woman who goes to Russia in order to take possession of a rural, ancestral home willed to her by her late mother.
The screenplay, by Cerdá, Karim Hussain (former Fantasia programmer and director of the notorious Subconscious Cruelty), and Richard Stanley (director of Hardware and Dust Devil) follows Marie as she peels back the layers of mystery surrounding her mother?s early life and the reasons for her own adoption during infanthood. What she finds isn?t pleasant, nor is it easily encapsulated into a simple synopsis, but the convoluted storyline and chain of events of the film aren?t necessarily supposed to take place in a world of linear cause and effect. Marie not only finds out that she has a twin brother, but also that the two of them are being stalked throughout their inherited mansion by a pair of doppelgangers who look as though they?d stepped out of a Fulci zombie film. Time begins to curve back on itself (or is it forward?) and Marie is swept up in a chain of sinister events that began forty years ago when she was born.
While perhaps not the masterpiece fans expected, given the film?s long gestation (not to mention the involvement of Cerdá?s well-respected screenplay partners), The Abandoned is nevertheless a creepy, brain-teasing, chill-inducing ghost ride of a movie, with spectacular technical support from cinematographer Xavi Giménez (who shot Cerdá?s short ?Genesis?) and the sound and music staff. In fact, much of the tense and terrifying mood of the film comes from its innovative soundscape, a mixture of traditional music, ambient noise and electronic noodlings by Montreal composer David Kristian. Originally presented last fall as part of the After Dark Horrorfest, The Abandoned comes to American screens this weekend in a wider release with an impressive marketing campaign; here's hoping that Cerdá's next project won't take nearly as long to make it to the screen.