New On Demand and digital download from Vertical Entertainment!
Directed by Spencer Squire.
Written by Erik Patterson, Jessica Scott.
Starring Emma Roberts, Kate Arrington, John Gallagher Jr., Michael Shannon, Addy Miller, Paul Dillon, Justin Matthew Smith, Paul Schneider, Christian Michael Pates, Paxton Pope, Graham Dean, Carter Matthews
Sara (Emma Roberts) and Alex (John Gallagher Jr.) move into a new home with their newborn child. Sara is overwhelmed with post-partum depression, but hope that decorating the new home will prove to be a new start for their family. Unfortunately, the house they live in has a dark past and the ghosts of that past are restless. Being the first family to move in since the last family was killed, Sara and Alex aren’t prepared for the horrors to come. Also, Michael Shannon plays Michael Shannon playing a creepy neighbor who rarely knocks.
While Emma Roberts is trying her best, it doesn’t seem to be enough to save the toothless horrors that ABANDONED provides. Sure the film does a great job of setting up some scary scenes, but Sara’s reaction to these paranormal encounters (which include phantom children’s laughter, visions of a burly man, footsteps in the night, swarms of flies, and an especially grabby pair of hands under the bed) is as unbelievable as it comes. If anyone outside of this movie would have encountered a fraction of the strange phenomena that occurs in ABANDONED, they’d be packing their bags. But because she seems to be depressed and preoccupied with a baby who cries a lot, Sara seems non plussed by it all. There are numerous instances in ABANDONED where something strange happens, Sara screams, but then just grabs the baby and moves onto the next scene as if nothing happened. It occurs over and over and makes no sense why Sara isn’t doing everything she can to get out of the house.
John Gallagher Jr. is usually pretty strong in the few films I’ve seen him in. I liked 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE and loved SHORT TERM 12. I even liked him in THE NEWSROOM. But here he plays a cliched husband who promises to be there for his wife but is always away because of work. In this case, he is a veterinarian preoccupied by a particularly bad stock of pigs at a neighbor’s farm. It seems the plot wants to tie in these mysterious pig abnormalities with Sara’s problems at home, but the connection is weak at best. The only thing this dos is conveniently remove Alex from the home, so he doesn’t experience the ghostly stuff and gives him the unlikable and uncharacteristic scenes where he doubts the word of his own wife and acts like he’s the one who is carrying the burden. It’s an unintentionally negative role that is beyond the realm of cliché in these types of movies.
The scenes of tension and suspense occasionally work. The culmination of ghost sounds and visions are creepy, but they never really lead to anything. The climax is lackluster and never achieves the level of scare that the buildup promises. The fact that, really, nothing has happened by the end of the film and that it goes out on an almost too saccharinated note left my hopes that this ghost movie would be something worthwhile feel…well…ABANDONED. I just can’t recommend this one, folks, despite the big name cast.