Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Bizarre, otherworldly delights seem to be the bread and butter of many a festival. Without warning, along comes this surprisingly gripping sci-fi thriller, courtesy of the Mammoth Film Festival. Evoking indie favorite Cube and Ryan Reynolds chiller Buried, The Abandon strands its lead character in a confined setting as he races to solve the mysteries of his captivity. Director Jason Satterlund and writer Dwain Worrell wring maximum tension from an intriguing premise.

During an Iraqi raid, Sergeant Miles passes out after being wounded and spotting a strange light in the sky above. When he awakens, Miles is in a cubed room alone. No windows or exits are in sight. He calls for a medic to assist with his stomach wound, but it becomes all to clear that Miles is alone within these walls. Weird noises and loss of gravity soon make their forceful entrance, as the cube seems to violently spin out of control. Temperatures fluctuate, and strange words appear in seemingly random spots on the walls.

The Abandon kicks into high gear once Miles is able to reach another person on his satellite phone. A mysterious woman who claims to be trapped in a similar space, but somehow she was nabbed in Cape Cod whilst Miles was fetched in Iraq. Together, the duo communicate, trying to solve random clues all over the room. Their only way out may be in deciphering the limited world around them, and the eerie countdown to the next cube-thrashing episode. Solving the strange mathematical anomalies are easier said than done…

What makes this work is Jonathan Rosenthal’s performance, who must carry the weight of the film on his shoulders. As his situation grows more dire, Rosenthal imbues Miles with a determined audacity. The audio is manic and horrifying, reflecting the dire situation Miles finds himself in. The Abandon left me hanging but in the best way possible: by letting one’s imagination run wild. Sci-fi horror done right, The Abandon is an under-the-radar gem.

The Abandon screened at 2022’s Mammoth Film Festival.

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