Spencer Squire’s “Abandoned” isn’t explicitly a pandemic film, nevertheless, it looks like a pandemic manufacturing with its extremely restricted solid and single setting manufacturing. It has the sense of a challenge put collectively by a small group of people that understandably wish to maintain working in secure situations because the world grew to become so harmful. Given my normal enjoyment of confined setting two-handers, I used to be able to get sucked into the world of “Abandoned,” to really feel as trapped as its clearly doomed heroine. Sadly, Squire’s debut turns into more and more ineffective, falling sufferer to shoddy filmmaking and lackluster storytelling. It’s a type of task the place the set-up and finale had been clearly well-considered, however, the connective materials, the majority of the movie, were not. As an alternative of ratcheting up rigidity, Squire appears content material to maintain a minor-stakes ambiance that, nicely, abandons his main woman in a movie that doesn’t do something attention-grabbing along with her predicament.
The stated main woman is Sara (Emma Roberts), a troubled soul with a toddler son who strikes right into a distant farmhouse along with her husband Alex (John Gallagher Jr.). Sara is clearly combating post-partum melancholy—the entire movie is an allegory for that situation, however too typically feels prefer it’s not empathetic sufficient to essentially perceive it—and but “Abandoned” by no means questions if it’s a good suggestion to go away a depressed mother in the course of nowhere whereas her husband is gone for hours on distant farm work. It’s a shallow set-up for a shallow film, one which’s all of the extra transparently manipulative in its sound design, which is dominated by roughly 55 minutes of “crying baby” sounds.
After all, “Abandoned” isn’t a drama about a couple of troubled moms—it’s a horror film about a couple of homes with a darkish previous. For causes that don’t make a lot of sense past “movie,” Sara and Alex don’t even discover the home earlier than shopping for it. And so the locked door and the oddly-placed wardrobe that’s clearly hiding one thing come up solely after they’ve signed the contract. A minimum of the realtor tells them concerning the murder-suicide that occurred within the house as she urgently tries to get Alex to signal earlier than he alters his thoughts. Earlier than you understand it, Sara is listening to sounds behind the partitions and getting visits from a creepy neighbor (Michael Shannon), who is aware of a factor or two about the home.
Shannon, clearly doing a favor for a buddy who co-starred with him in “Heart of Champions,” solely seems in a couple of scenes, and it’s no exaggeration to say he looks as if he’s visiting from a greater film. Shannon finds a haunted register in this man’s cadence and physique language that offers “Abandoned” the one weight it has, however, he’s not in it almost sufficient to salvage the manipulations of Erik Patterson and Jessica Scott’s uninteresting screenplay. There’s simply no meat on this movie’s bones. Gallagher will get a non-character and Roberts is left hanging by being pressured to play post-partum as a horror trope. Simply because it was made through the pandemic doesn’t imply viewers ought to really feel sick once they’re accomplished watching it.