English Review: Abandoned Dead (Mark W. Curran, 2015)


Original title: Abandoned Dead
2015 – USA
Genre: Fantastic
Director: Mark W. Curran
Music: Robert Adams
Screenplay: Mark W. Curran
Actors: Sarah Nicklin, Carlos Ramirez, Robert E. Wilhelm, Hannah Johnson, Judith O’Dea and Jack Stafford

Story: Rachel, a security agent, must watch an abandoned clinic at night. She will witness strange events pretty fast.

In America, just like in Japan in fact, there is a market for very small production. I don’t talk here about small TV movies or some voluntarily bad flicks like the ones made by Asylum or Syfy, but of real tiny budgets, from 2K to 20K$. Often, those movies are horror flicks or erotic. Just like V-Cinema in Japan. And naturally, those productions almost never made it to France. Abandoned Dead, very small production shot in Los Angeles in 2015 with a low score on imdb of 2,8/10 (yes, that’s low) is one of those flicks. A film not necessarily original, with a few bad points, but which delivers some really great points, a few nice scenes, all that made by a very small team, but a team that believes in it. So if you like small indie movies, small low budget horror films, well, Abandoned Dead does a pretty nice job and you’ll have 77 pretty nice minutes watching it. And it was not a sure things because the film wants to play a lot on atmosphere and waits. No surprise, as soon as it starts, we’ll understand this is basically the same story as Last Shift, the film from Antonhy DiBlasi made in 2014. Yes yes, a woman who must watch, alone, at night, a deserted place, but she’ll see pretty fast some weird things. Of course, the budget but also the character’s story and the final are not the same at all.

We could even say Abandoned Dead does a lot of things… less impressive than the other film. Last Shift, it wasn’t a great film, but it has a nice atmosphere and was nicely filmed. But it was pretty quickly boring, repetitive and the final was bad. In Abandoned Dead, things are a little different. As soon as the movie starts, we understand that the film has a very limited budget, but also that the filming schedule must have been very tight. The scene when Rachel drives in the streets of Los Angeles, we can already notice a lot of problems between shots. Movements are not the same between shots, the lights change too between them, and it can only be explained with a tight schedule. Especially as scenes filmed behind closed doors as way much better. Despite one or two shots badly lighten (there is one scene when the character almost has orange’ skin), the rest is way better, well filmed, well lighten. Rachel, let’s go back to her. Sarah Nicklin took the part, and she’s used to small productions (actually around 70 small budget films in her career). She’s the girl who finds herself trapped against her will in an empty clinic and she’ll have to survive. Opposite of Last Shift actually, the film takes its time. No repetitive jumpscares, it’s the opposite. Ghost apparitions or things like that are pretty rare (two or three times), the film rather uses atmosphere, darkness.

And in fact, Sarah Nicklin is really good in her part, and see her walking in empty corridors with her flashlight, scared, well it works well on screen. It’s too bad that next to this closed doors movie, we can see a detective outside, for a few story elements not related at first, but as we can guess, will join the main story during the finale. A pretty good finale actually, despite its lack of originality. It’s nicely done, and it’s the logical finale for the story. The only bad point is, well, it’s not original. That’s the problem of Abandoned Dead in fact. Because if we have a good time and we easily forgive all the small little bad things in it due to its lack of money, we won’t be really surprised by the film. Yes, it’s a short film, and a lot of scenes are really great to watch when you know what to expect of course, but we would have loved to be a little more surprised by it. Maybe by simply focusing more on Rachel, and becoming a real behind closed door movie, it could have been better, but the result is actually pretty good.

The good

A nice atmosphere

No repetitive jumpscares

Sarah Nicklin

The Bad

Predictable and not so original

The scenes that take place outside


So: Abandoned Dead is a tiny little budget that reminds us a lot of Last Shift. The film has its charm, nice moments and nice actors, but not for everyone as it’s a tiny budget.

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