Review by Adam Donato
Abandoned is the first feature film from actor Spencer Squire. Good for him getting a cast of known players such as Emma Roberts, Michael Shannon, and John Gallagher Jr. Squire had worked with Shannon previously, which might have been the connection. Roberts plays a woman who is struggling with postpartum depression. Gallagher Jr. plays her husband who moves with her to an old farmhouse. The couple is somewhat turned off to the house after hearing about the double homicide and suicide that took place with the previous owners by a mother very similar to Roberts. The horrors she experiences are personified by this haunted house in this horror thriller movie. Can she find peace with her new life or will she succumb to madness?
Not unlike Monstrous from earlier this year, Abandoned feels derivative of other horror movies. A woman struggles with her past trauma and her life is turned into a nonstop horror barrage. Speaking of horror, this movie is not very scary at all. Most of the scares are surrounded by flies. They’re always buzzing around her and surrounding disgusting things she finds in the house. There’s not much of a mystery whether or not the horror is more internal or external. It’s very clear this is a personal problem for Roberts's character so the external scary scenes are underwhelming to say the least. It’s nice to focus on the internal conflict, but nothing interesting is done with it. Erick Patterson is most known for writing R.L. Stine’s The Haunting Hour series and Another Cinderella Story, so the lack of an interesting story is not surprising.
The most noteworthy aspect of the movie is the cast. Roberts is no stranger to the horror genre with Scream 4 and Scream Queens. She’s pretty much the only thing holding this movie above a one star rating. Her relationship with Gallagher Jr. feels realistic. It’s depressing watching Gallagher Jr. try so desperately to make this new life work when most of the time it doesn’t feel like Roberts is on his team. Shannon is definitely in the movie. He plays their creepy neighbor who randomly shows up inside their house uninvited. Their house has personal significance to him and his relationship with Roberts helps bring her out of her funk.
Abandoned provides absolutely nothing new. It’s much more effective as a drama than it is as a horror movie. The cast adds some legitimacy to what is, in reality, a tepid experience of a movie. Roberts fans may enjoy it, but there’s not much here for other audiences. It’s more whatever bad than it is bad bad.
Abandoned is now in theaters and on VOD.