Abandoned Dead (2017)

January 19, 2017 - 6:43pm | Ryan Tutolo

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Mark W. Curran
Ivan Adame, Hannah Johnson, Sarah Nicklin

Abandoned Dead tells the story of Rachel, a security guard hired to do an overnight shift at a methadone clinic on a holiday weekend. As you would expect she’s not all too happy about this, but even worse it’s in a pretty bad section of town and she has terrible cell phone reception. Meanwhile, there’s a detective investigating a series of murders and it may or may not have something to do with the aforementioned clinic.

Bizarre, seemingly supernatural occurrences keep happening and Rachel examines the creepy hospital setting armed with only a flashlight or lantern. Rachel has to get to the bottom of the mystery with her mind in one piece and confront the mysterious Dr. Mayfield, but even still, not all is what it seems.

As with any movie there are some good points and I want to get to those first. The camerawork and cinematography is actually quite impressive. Everything is framed interestingly and the hand held stuff doesn't come off as distracting at all. The copy I watched was a little on the dark side but I think this works well with the setting of a mysterious hospital/clinic. The filmmaker’s influences are clear with distinct nods to Carpenter’s The Fog and even a little Silent Hill (the games not movie) with ominous sounds whenever anything creepy happens and the static forming on the radio. Uli Lommel’s Boogeyman also comes to mind at points with the various dreams/flashbacks present. Also, Judith O’Dea does a solid job as a kindly psychiatrist trying to help Rachel along her way.

The detective has some “Max Payne” moments where he whispers seemingly deep poetic thoughts to himself. If you’ve ever played the first or second May Payne video games, you’ll know what I’m talking about. They’re put in here to make the movie feel more “Noire” but it comes off a little half-assed while trying too hard to be deep. He also walks and drives all over town picking up random payphones that are ringing with some deep voice caller. His false depth is justified towards the end of the movie but explaining it would spoil the ending so I’ll just say it’s laughable when it happens despite having a reason for it.

The acting is certainly sub-par, but I can’t single anyone out for it. These low budget horror films often have difficulty with heavy dramatic tension, and this movie is filled with it. Sarah Nicklin does 90% of the acting work and while she has some positives, as a whole it just doesn't help to hold the movie together.

The major downside of this movie is the pacing. I get it, this is supposed to be a slow burner. Sadly, it ends up being less of a slow burner and more of a slow It just completely drags, and for a movie that clocks in at just around 77 minutes, that’s crazy. Much of the walking around the clinic and random street wandering from the detective just eat up time, but if it wasn’t there the movie would only be about 45 minutes!

Finally, I won’t spoil the ending, but I will say it’s so clichéd you see it coming a mile away and you end up thinking to yourself, “No, they wouldn’t end it like that...that’s way too obvious.” Yet the credits roll and the movie is done. A weak way to end the movie and is emblematic of some of the writing and overall choices made by the movie.

Abandoned Dead deals with themes of isolation and fear. The movie wears its influences on its sleeve and while an easy watch, it falls into some tired tropes that would have been better left on the cutting room floor. In all it’s a promising outing from a first time director but some pacing work is needed and its flaws ultimately drag the movie down.

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Ryan Tutolo's picture
Ryan Tutolo is a horror movie lover and host of the UHM Podcast. Follow him on Twitter and let him know why his reviews suck!




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