The Abandoned (2006 film)

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The Abandoned
Abandoned ver2.jpg
US version of the film poster
Directed by Nacho Cerdà
Produced by Carlos Fernández
Julio Fernández
Written by Nacho Cerdà
Karim Hussain
Richard Stanley
Starring Anastasia Hille
Carlos Reig
Valentin Ganev
Karel Roden
Music by Alfons Conde
Cinematography Xavi Giménez
Edited by Jorge Macaya
Distributed by After Dark Films
Release date(s)
  • 11 September 2006 (2006-09-11) (TIFF)[1]
Running time 94 minutes
Country Spain
United Kingdom
Language English
Box office $4,153,578[2]

The Abandoned is a 2006 Spanish-Bulgarian-British horror film, and drama-thriller co-written and directed by Nacho Cerdà, about an American film producer who returns to her homeland, Russia, to discover the truth about her family history.


A Russian peasant family is eating dinner when a truck stops in the front yard. The father opens the door of the truck to find a murdered woman and two crying infants in the seat next to her.

Forty years later Marie Jones has been summoned to Russia by a notary who claims to have found her long dead parents and the home they owned. As she climbs the steps to his office someone brushes past her. Marie arrives at the house where her mother died and is confronted by an old woman who insists that she should not go to the Kardinovsky farm, where Marie's parents lived. They are interrupted by Anatoly, Marie's guide, the only person willing to venture to the farm at night. The farm sits on an island and is only accessible by a bridge. Marie and Anatoly cross the bridge and stop a few yards from the house. Anatoly tells Marie to stay in the truck while he makes sure there are no animals blocking their path. Marie waits, and then sees what appears to be Anatoly ahead of her, but when she leaves the truck she finds herself alone. Shortly afterwards the truck's engine dies.

Marie enters the house with a flashlight and begins investigating. She hears a bang and a child wailing from upstairs, but finds nothing. Marie enters a nursery, and sees, out of the corner of her eye, a woman walking past. When she runs into the hallway she sees the same woman enter another room. Marie follows and comes face to face with her doppelgänger who appears to be soaking wet. She runs out the house in time to see the truck leave. In a panic she chases it and falls into the river where she begins drowning.

Marie wakes up in a much warmer and brightly lit room in the house. She meets Nikolai who explains that he is her brother and that he was summoned by the notary. Marie is sceptical, but when he takes her upstairs and shows her their cribs she realises he is being truthful. She tells him what she saw and he explains that seeing your double shows you how you will die.

They meet Nikolai's doppelgänger, a bloody, ravaged body, and realise they have to leave the island. As they are ready to flee Nikolai falls through a hole in the floor and vanishes. In her parents' room, Marie witnesses events from the past as she watches her father stab her mother to death on their bed. Screaming, she turns to find her doppelgänger behind her. This time it catches her in the babies' room and seems to suck out part of her soul, leaving her gasping and disoriented. Marie flees the house, taking a boat to the other side of the river as her doppelgänger watches.

As Marie runs through the forest, she finds herself before the house again. When she enters, she finds the dining room clean, as it must have been decades earlier. At the table, looking morosely at a birthday cake, is an injured Nikolai. He did not die, but merely fell into the basement. He tells Marie that they were not meant to leave the house. They were supposed to die with their mother and now, on the eve of their birthday, the house has called them to fulfill their destinies at midnight.

When the clock strikes midnight, the entire house returns to the state it was in 1966, and they hear their father enter the house. Marie tries to intercept him, hoping to change the past, but Nikolai tells her that it has already happened; the only way to survive would be to escape in the past, where the house cannot touch them. When they try they are separated, and Marie ends up in the back of the truck as her father drives away with the infants, while Nikolai sees the form of his long lost love, Natalie.

Marie's father stops at the barn, leaving one baby in a pig's pen for the boars, while he tries to drown the other in the boars' water tank. Marie's injured mother shoots her father in the head and grabs both babies, fleeing to the truck. Nikolai turns to see his lover is now his father and is attacked by the boars.

Marie finds her father's now desiccated body in the barn, and is then pushed into a pseudo-past where she realises her father and the notary are the same person. She flees his office in the present and runs into her past self as she comes up the steps, and continues fleeing into the sunlight until she finds herself back in the house, this time between the past and the present, where the apparition of her father explains that he has always loved his children and his wife, and could not let them leave him. She runs from him and finds Nikolai's body being eaten by the boars. When her doppelgänger comes after her, Marie flees to the truck parked outside and drives away.

Marie's father's voice comes over the radio, telling her to return and join the family he has created. The bridge that brought her there has been destroyed, and she plunges into the lake, drowning. The film ends with Marie's daughter, Emily, explaining that she knew her mother would never return. It has been months since she left for Russia and she has never had the desire to know what happened to her or her parents, breaking the cycle and leaving her abandoned.


The film was originally written by Karim Hussain and set to be directed by him, but it was shelved. Nacho Cerdà, a friend of Hussain's who had been impressed by the screenplay, later suggested the film as a project for Filmax. As Hussain was involved in another film at the time, Cerdà took over directing duties. Richard Stanley was brought in to polish the script. For casting, Cerdà insisted on an unknown actor to star, despite the studio pushing for Nastassja Kinski or Holly Hunter.[3] The film was originally known as Los Abandonados, under which it played at Sitges Film Festival. Cerdà disliked that name, but Stanley preferred that, as it sounded like a Spaghetti western. Cerdà is a fan of slow-paced, atmospheric horror films and wanted to make something that wasn't a Saw or Hostel clone. Major themes include the past, emotional dependency and forging your own identity.[4]


The Abandoned was first released in the US as part of the After Dark Horrorfest in November 2006. The film received a stand alone release in cinemas in February 2007.[5] The total domestic gross was $1,331,137, and the total worldwide gross was $4,153,578.[2] The DVD was released on 19 June 2007 and includes a short "Behind the Scenes" featurette.[6]


Rotten Tomatoes, a review aggregator, reports that the film received positive reviews from 38% of 34 surveyed critics, and the average rating was 4.7/10; the consensus is: "The Abandoned spends so much time setting up the creepy atmosphere, that it forgets to inhabit it with genuine spooks or scares."[7] Dennis Harvey of Variety called The Abandoned a "minimally plotted but beautifully atmospheric nightmare" and predicted that it would be popular among cult film fans who favor "arty, surreal Euro-horror".[8] Bloody Disgusting rated the film 4.5/5 stars and wrote that it is "the most genuinely scary and intelligent horror film since Session 9" with a "rare perfect mix of substance and style."[9] Joshua Siebalt of Dread Central rated it 4.5/5 stars and called it "creepy, genuinely scary, and above all else, original."[10] Scott Tobias of The A.V. Club rated the film B and said that it "is a rare horror film that moves from the real world into a kind of psychic space, and slowly suffocates its characters inside their own heads."[11] Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly rated it D- and said it "sinks so deep into deathly atmosphere that there's no life to it."[12] Jim Ridley of The Village Voice described it as "a punishing dose of zombie Chekhov for lifetime Fangoria subscribers" and "style in search of a movie".[13] Erin Meister of the Boston Globe called it "more of an exercise in audience torture than titillation" that makes no sense.[14]


  1. ^ Tillson, Tamsen; McClintock, Pamela (2006-08-22). "'Good Year' on Toronto's calendar". Variety. Retrieved 2013-11-29. 
  2. ^ a b "The Abandoned". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2013-11-29. 
  3. ^ Siebart, Joshua (2006-11-19). "Cerda, Nacho (The Abandoned)". Dread Central. Retrieved 2013-11-29. 
  4. ^ Blake (2006-09-06). "The Abandoned Interview - Identity Horror, Midnight Madness and More!". Twitch Film. Retrieved 2014-01-17. 
  5. ^ Miska, Brad (2007-01-10). "Rogue Shifts 'Strangers', 'The Abandoned' Moves Up". Bloody Disgusting. Retrieved 2013-11-29. 
  6. ^ Miska, Brad (2007-03-29). "The Hills Have Eyes 2, The Abandoned Get Dates". Bloody Disgusting. Retrieved 2013-11-29. 
  7. ^ "The Abandoned". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2013-11-28. 
  8. ^ Harvey, Dennis (2007-02-23). "Review: 'The Abandoned'". Variety. Retrieved 2013-11-28. 
  9. ^ "The Abandoned (V)". Bloody Disgusting. 2007-02-21. Retrieved 2013-11-28. 
  10. ^ Siebalt, Joshua (2006-11-20). "The Abandoned". Dread Central. Retrieved 2013-11-28. 
  11. ^ Tobias, Scott (2007-02-26). "The Abandonded". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 2013-11-28. 
  12. ^ Gleiberman, Owen (2007-02-26). "The Abandoned". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2013-11-28. 
  13. ^ Ridley, Jim (2007-02-20). "The Abandoned". The Village Voice. Retrieved 2013-11-28. 
  14. ^ Meister, Erin (2007-02-24). "Adrift at spirit-filled homecoming". Boston Globe. Retrieved 2013-11-28. 

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