Director Spencer Squire’s Abandoned doesn’t offer anything new in the scare-fare arena, as the film rolls out one haunted house trope after another, but solid performances from its three leads and perfectly fine technical aspects make it an ultimately watchable diversion.
Sara (Emma Roberts of American Horror Story, Scream Queens, and The Blackcoat’s Daughter) and her veterinarian husband Alex (John Gallagher Jr. of 10 Cloverfield Lane) move with their newborn son from the hectic city life to the bucolic life of a rural house in which a tragic multiple murder/suicide occured, which they learn about before signing papers but buy the house anyway. With a set-up like this, it’s obvious that things aren’t going to go well for the couple.
Sara, who is suffering from postpartum depression but refusing to take medicine because she wants to breastfeed her baby — who only wants bottles — begins hearing and seeing things in the house that grow from odd to frightening. Alex, naturally because he is a male significant other in a film like this, works from the morning late into the night and doesn’t believe his wife when she tells him that strange things are occuring, putting it down to her depression. Sara gets more support from the couple’s mysterious neighbor (Michael Shannon)
The scare attempts are by the numbers, and the film sets up going to some interesting places — for example, one of the farmers who hires Alex has a group of pigs that are suffering from something weird — but then just, well, abandons the ideas. The screenplay from Erik Patterson and Jessica Scott tries to tackle a bit too much, and as Squire does a nice job trying to keep the multiple plates spinning, Abandoned is bolstered by the performances of Roberts — the standout here — Gallagher Jr. and Shannon. The trio give their roles their all. Unfortunately, the script doesn’t give them much challenging material with which to work.
Abandoned, from Vertical Entertainment and TPC, will be in theaters from June 17, 2022 and available on Digital and On Demand June 24, 2022.