Security guard Rachel is given a last minute job to do the night shift at a run-down addiction clinic in a dodgy part of town. Stuck alone until dawn, she soon becomes plagued by supernatural forces lurking in the shadows. Meanwhile, police detective Haggis (yes, really) investigates a series of brutal murders with apparent ties to the sinister building, leading towards the point where the mysteries intersect.
Except they don’t. The two strands exist completely separate from each other, so much so that if the latter were removed from the film entirely you wouldn’t actually notice the difference. Unfortunately, this is only one of a litany of ways in which the film fails to come together in any meaningful sense.
The story is riddled with a typical assortment of eerie fare such as dimly-lit blackness, odd noises, creepy phone calls, objects moving on their own, and sinister apparitions that may or may not be only dreams, but nothing that occurs translates to even basic frights, never mind a coherent story. Rachel’s fear of the dark might provide justification for why she’s so freaked out by such ghost house antics, but the mediocre scares prevent us from truly connecting with her personal terror. A veteran of dozens of low-budget horror flicks, Sarah Nicklin can do roles like this in her sleep, and her clear commitment to the sub-par material is about the only thing the film has to recommend it.
Occasionally interspersing Rachel’s torment, Haggis’ purported investigation largely involves aimlessly wandering around the city accompanied by a pseudo-noir internal monologue that sounds more like a parody of Max Payne than a serious lamentation of a killer’s actions. He occasionally receives mysterious calls from nearby pay phones that apparently still exist, but the messages are so meaninglessly cryptic they add neither substance to nor elaboration on what’s supposed to be going on.
It’s only in the final 15 minutes that anything resembling a plot begins to emerge, and little of what’s revealed adequately ties up with any of the previous hour’s portentous occurrences. Come the climax, the film evidently realises it has been so poorly executed that the conclusion consists of one character quite literally explaining the story’s entire premise.
Abandoned Dead clearly has lofty ambitions of creating a tense atmosphere by exploring themes of loneliness and isolation, but falls far short of its goal while believing itself to be far cleverer and introspective than it actually is. In truth, all it can claim to be is a badly thought-out, garbled mess from start to finish.
ABANDONED DEAD / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR & SCREENPLAY: MARK W CURRAN / STARRING: SARAH NICKLIN, CARLOS RAMIREZ, ROBERT E WILHELM, JUDITH O’DEA / RELEASE DATE: 27TH FEBRUARY