The Abandoned DVD Review
Written and directed by Matthew A. Peters
2008, Region 1 NTSC, 87 minutes, Not Rated
DVD released on November 10th, 2008
Mark Joseph Peek as Nate
Erika Biel as Nina
Larry Cicigline as Dr. Gero
James S. Cacciatore as Colt
The future can be a scary place, especially if it's a snow covered wasteland with mutants running left and right. About 20 years ago, in a reaction to colder and colder temperatures, a scientist named Dr. Gero attempted to make mankind immune to this harsh climate. He goes mad and creates cannibalistic freaks called Creepers that roam the streets. The survivors flee to the mountains or underground. Left with no other option, a handful of the living make their way to the urban legend of the Dome City.
The Abandoned has a great setup going for it, but the script has a few plot holes. Nina, a girl born in the underground city, is mankind's last hope for survival because her blood is special. No one says why, though. It just is. Her mother came to the underground sanctuary, had the kid and died, and now Nina is special. There are a handful of other plot holes that pop up, but the bit with Nina was the one that bugged me the most because it's such an integral part of the story.
What struck me as surprisingly good, especially for an independent film, was the direction. Matthew A. Peters does a fantastic job with what he has available here. The shots look great and the story flowed very well with his work. There were several times throughout the film that I was taken aback by how good the setups were.
The only major problem with The Abandoned is the score. The first five minutes of the film look like a poorly staged music video from the mid-‘90s, complete with a metal song that just keeps going. The rest of the film is interspersed with music that rarely fits the events on screen. Scenes that are supposed to be filled with tension and excitement are left emotionless due to the music. It took me right out of the movie. I'd be interested to see what the film would be like without any music at all, or with a score that matched up to what was going on.
There are other minor grievances with the film, but they're forgiven due to the independent film aspect. The acting was spotty. The special effects were lackluster. The costumes didn't jive with the story. Seriously, if they've been living underground for 20 years, why is that one girl running around in a spotless white jacket with a matching hat and scarf set? But again, that's forgiven as they were probably working with what they already had.
The Abandoned isn't a perfect film, but with some polish it could be pretty good. The music really brings it down and takes away from what could have been a decent flick. I'm interested to see how Peters grows as a filmmaker.
Video and Audio:
The video quality of The Abandoned is poor. Again, this was probably done with what the filmmakers had available. I hope that for their future films they get some better equipment.
The audio is in a similar situation. There's a lot of ambient noise, such as wind, that's picked up and constantly distracts from the story. This is something that can be easily fixed with the right mics.
The most interesting feature is the 18 minute behind-the-scenes webisode which shows some of the locations and interviews members of the cast and crew. This also provides some interesting tidbits like how almost everyone from Mad Angel Films was involved in The Abandoned. For example, the accountant is one of the Creepers that's killed in the junk yard scene. There's also a music video from Split 2nd Alibi which consists of a live performance cut with shots from the film.