Directed by: Spencer Squire
Distributed by: Vertical Entertainment
Written by Jeff Sparks
Emma Roberts, John Gallagher Jr., and Michael Shannon star in “Abandoned”, which focuses on a young couple with a newborn who move into a farmhouse where multiple murders were committed years earlier. Following this, the woman experiences paranormal encounters that may or may not be due to her postpartum depression. If the setup sounds familiar that’s because it is. There are countless other formulaic horror stories just like this, especially since the box office success of another haunted house movie, “The Conjuring”. The only difference between this film is that it isn’t just a formulaic rip-off, it’s just bad. Early on in the film, I was in disbelief at how bad the film was that I have to put the blame on the writing, editing, and directing. The way the characters talk to each other is so unnatural I have no idea how these actors were even able to finish the scenes. Sometimes they don’t even speak. There are a couple of times they just sit there and look at each other as if they are characters in a Role-Playing Game and someone forgot to select a choice from the dialogue wheel.
I cannot blame the actors for this but the performances in this are just not good. Not even Michael Shannon, who always gives his best efforts, can salvage a good scene. Roberts makes up a majority of the screen time but is unable to find a way to give a consistent performance. She does well in the scenes that focus on her postpartum depression but is shaky in the scenes that are supposed to be scary or tension-filled. The directing and editing are at fault here, not the actors. The film attempts to make almost every scene filled with tension with an overused score. Even a scene of Roberts simply trying to open a window is filled with spooky music. Gallagher Jr. on the other hand barely gets a character. He’s just the cliche selfish husband who doesn’t understand what’s wrong with his wife. If the film wasn’t bad enough already it builds to a nonsensical twist that I couldn’t believe for a second, only to alter that twist into a rushed metaphorical ending that not only feels out of place but barely makes sense. I never like to see actors give up on projects in production, but “Abandoned” is a film I wish Roberts and Shannon would have abandoned so I wouldn’t have to say that one of the worst movies of the year stars two skilled actors like Emma Roberts and Michael Shannon.