The Abandoned Blu-ray Review

Written by Robert Gold

Blu-ray released by Unearthed Films

Directed by Nacho Cerdá
Written by Karim Hussain, Nacho Cerdá and Richard Stanley
2006, 99 minutes, Rated R
Released on April 9th, 2024

Anastasia Hille as Marie Jones
Karel Roden as Nicolai
Valentin Ganev as Andrei Misharin
Paraskeva Djukelova as Marie’s mother
Carlos Reig-Plaza as Anatoliy
Monica Baunova as Emily
Marta Yaneva as Natalya


Although born in Russia, Marie Jones was raised in the United States and never knew her long-deceased parents. After receiving word of her inheritance of some family property, Marie returns to Russia for the first time in forty years. Upon arrival she is met by less-than-friendly locals but manages to find a ride closer to the house, which is isolated on an island. Upon reaching the dilapidated structure, she meets a man named Nicolai, who says he is her twin brother and is also looking for answers. Together, they find they are not alone in this haunted house, and the spirits of the past are not at all friendly.

In November 2006, the After Dark Horrorfest released a series of low-budget horror movies under the banner “8 Films to Die For”. One of the better entries in this lineup is The Abandoned, a thoughtful and chilling spin on the classic old dark house subgenre. Working from a script he co-wrote with Karim Hussain (Subconscious Cruelty) and Richard Stanley (Hardware), director Nacho Cerdá (Coffin of Light) makes a solid feature debut, delivering a suspenseful movie that builds on the success of his acclaimed short films Aftermath (1994) and Genesis (1998).

The director creates a disturbing and atmospheric environment in this fish-out-of-water story in which our lead character visits a country where she doesn’t speak the language. By design, none of the Russian dialogue is subtitled, placing viewers firmly in our protagonist’s shoes. The Abandoned is light on plot, but grabs viewers as soon as Marie reaches the house and begins questioning reality. Anastasia Hille (Snow White and the Huntsman) stars as Marie and does all the heavy lifting in this psychological chiller. Watching her cling to her sanity is captivating as more and more becomes unreliable, including her surroundings and time itself. Karel Roden (Orphan) co-stars as Nicolai, a well-meaning guy Marie is a bit wary of but who also proves to be a stabilizing presence as the mind games begin.

The Abandoned excels in its deliberate pacing, solid performances, gorgeous cinematography and haunting production design. Cerdá avoids any gore or graphic violence, opting instead for a straightforward psychological ghost story. Fans familiar with the subgenre will keep pace and possibly get ahead of the mystery at times, but the clues are foreboding and the ending powerful. The film holds up surprisingly well and comes with a solid recommendation for viewing on a dark and stormy night alone or with friends.

Video and Audio:

Presented in the 2.35:1 aspect ratio, picture quality is solid with rich black levels and strong colors. Much of the film takes place in the drab farmhouse, but contrast is excellent and there is no sign of compression issues.

Both the DTS-HD MA 5.1 track and LPCM 2.0 stereo mix are recommended, with the surround track edging ahead for ambience and sound effects in the old dark house. Dialogue is always understandable and free from distortion, but as mentioned above, only the English language dialogue is captioned.

Optional English subtitles are included for anyone in need.

Special Features:

Unearthed Films delivers a healthy supplemental package of new interviews and legacy featurettes, starting with a series of video conference interviews (in English) hosted by podcaster Zoë Rose Smith, all under the banner Circling Back. Up first is a conversation with director Nacho Cerdà (50 minutes), who details the history of the production from concept to completion. Other topics include the challenges of filming in Bulgaria with a Spanish crew.

The second interview is with the always-watchable Richard Stanley (45 minutes), co-writer and fellow filmmaker, who begins by acknowledging his long friendship with Cerdà. He details his contributions to the script and his thoughts on the film’s production.

The third interview catches up with co-writer Karim Hussain (52 minutes), who tells of how the script changed from one draft to the next and the various themes of the film. He tells production stories and talks about working with Cerdà and Stanley.

The Making of The Abandoned (13 minutes) is a traditional peek behind the scenes with footage from the set and interviews with members of the cast and crew. This segment is in English.

The featurette In the Den of The Abandoned (30 minutes) finds Cerdà and his main actors discussing the evolution of the project and the challenges that went into making key sequences in the film work. The interviews are conducted in Spanish with English subtitles.

Nacho Cerdà: The Trial of Death (28 minutes) finds the director discussing his early days making short films and his influences. He goes on to talk about becoming attached to this project and how the script evolved. Other topics include the decision to shoot in Bulgaria and the challenges he faced during the shoot. This segment is in Spanish with English subtitles.

Post-production is the subject of The Little Secrets of Nacho Cerdà (14 minutes), in which the director reveals how the film changed from its first edit to the final release. This featurette is in English.

When Buck Meets Cerdà: A Dialogue Between Friends (14 minutes) is an English-language conversation between the director and filmmaker Douglas Buck (Cutting Moments), who share their memories of their early success and influences. They also talk about how their styles have evolved over the years.

A collection of five scenes is presented as Alternate Cuts (12 minutes) in which we are treated to a bizarre dream sequence and additional shots of Marie in the woods.

There are three alternate endings (11 minutes) that offer some variety, but the final ending works best.

Also on hand are two deleted scenes and one extended scene (6 minutes) trimmed for pacing.

An outtakes reel (10 minutes) offers the usual gaffes and other mistakes.

A still gallery (10 minutes) filled with production photos and behind-the-scenes images is on hand for your viewing pleasure.

A storyboard gallery (11 minutes) breaks down the full movie scene by scene.

A series of theatrical trailers in various languages is also included.


Movie: Cover
Overall: 4 Star Rating

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Robert Gold
Staff Reviewer
Robert's favorite genres include horror (foreign and domestic), Asian cinema and pornography (foreign and domestic). His ability to seek out and enjoy shot on video (SOV) horror movies is unmatched. His love of films with a budget under $100,000 is unapologetic.
Other articles by this writer


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