The recent neglect of creepy haunted house flicks in favor of high-intensity gorefests is a shame considering the former's long history within the horror genre.
The Hostel and Saw films might bring immediate shocks, but where are the old-fashioned spooks and scares? Spanish director Nacho Cerdà attempts to answer this question with his appropriately titled The Abandoned. The action begins when a Russian-born American returns to her homeland 40 years after her mother's mysterious and violent murder, an act that left her an orphan. Summoned by an inheritance notice, she soon finds herself at a decrepit backwoods mansion sitting on its own isolated island. Investigations into the home reveal that it possesses dark family secrets, and it's been waiting for her return. To reveal any more would spoil the film, as the twists and turns open up a puzzle full of ghosts, doppelgangers and time shifts that are both intriguing and frustrating. The Abandoned is certainly ambitious, but it overreaches where chills are all that is necessary. (PM) Grade: C