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By Steve Anderson | July 6, 2007

I’ll confess to you all up front, I was disappointed by “The Abandoned.” By now you’re all a little confused. I gave this sucker three stars, after all. One more and it’s the best I give. So what gives, you wonder? Why am I so disappointed?

First, a little background. “The Abandoned,” for those not in the know, is the eighth film in the “Eight Films To Die For” series that comprised the After Dark Horrorfest. The first seven were released direct to video and “The Abandoned,” meanwhile, was elevated to an exalted status and given a theatrical release, albeit a limited one. Which is why I’m just getting to it now.

The film tells the tale of an American woman who’s just discovered her biological mother died somewhere in Russia, and left her a house on the middle of an island. So our heroine heads for Russia to check out said house and possibly get some clues about her birth parents. What she finds over there is of course like nothing she expects to find. For example, the twin brother she never knew she had is over there. And that’s not the weirdest part of the whole thing. It’s only going to get weirder from here on out– creepy dopplegangers, a deadly plot or two, and murderers from beyond the grave just to name a few factor in throughout.

“The Abandoned” was a good movie. Sure, it’s got a nice plot to it, but it’s still got its problems. Don’t get me wrong, even though I’d call it maybe only the third or fourth best in the After Dark Horrorfest, third or fourth best in a lineup of near-perpetual kickass like that still puts you above plenty of other movies, but a prize like big distribution should be reserved for the very best, and I didn’t think “The Abandoned” was that.

One good example of the problems I had with it was the weird and downright inexplicable plot holes. For instance, there’s a generator in the basement. And somehow, it’s still running after forty years of disuse. Where’d they get the fuel to run it? Worse, the overall effect is short on actual scares. Creepy moments are here in abundance, but they’re a bit spread out to add up to boost the adrenaline the way they should.

Like I said, it’s not bad by half. They made an excellent choice of setting; most of the movie takes place in or around this creepy old abandoned house. Most of the scares take place almost out of the corner of your eye as half-glimpsed things appear and vanish, making the scariest parts of “The Abandoned” that which you don’t see.

The special features are at least somewhat plentiful and include audio options, English and Spanish subtitles, a making-of featurette, plus trailers for “Dark Ride,” “Gravedancers,” “Unrest,” “Reincarnation,” “The Hamiltons,” “Penny Dreadful,” “Wicked Little Things” and of course, best of all, the After Dark Horrorfest 2007. Oh yes… it will be back. Even the DVD menu is nicely done–on par with even “Gravedancers”– and features multiple places to watch. I suggest watching the opening menu a couple times to get the full effect.

All in all, okay, maybe I expected too much going in, but “The Abandoned” definitely didn’t live up to what I had hoped for from the one film to die for that got theatrical release.

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