Abandoned is a generic PG-13 horror film trying to symbolize postpartum depression, presenting a messy modern take on The Yellow Wallpaper. At times, I felt the movie was trying too hard to emulate Apple TV’s far superior show, Servant. If you are like me and love Emma Roberts, you will probably want to see it anyway. In this regard, the film doesn’t disappoint, as it presents ample opportunity for Roberts to flex her certified scream queen vocal chords. A movie needs more than constant screaming and growing manic confusion to make it good, and unfortunately, nothing beyond Roberts’s performance is even halfway original.
Sarah (Emma Roberts, American Horror Story, Scream Queens) and her boyfriend, Alex (John Gallagher Jr., Come Play, 10 Cloverfield Lane) have found the perfect deal: an idyllic farmhouse to grow together with their newborn baby, Liam, that comes complete with a much closer commute to work for Alex. It all seems too good to be true, and indeed it just may be. The property has a shadowy past, as it is the site of a suicide and double homicide. Sarah impulsively decides to take it anyway—“I don’t mind a little haunting,” she insists. Sarah’s depression threatens to return as she begins to hear strange noises in their new home…
Sarah spirals, hearing loud banging and children laughing in the crawlspace behind the immovable bedroom wardrobe. Try as she may, Sarah cannot get these voices and sounds out of her head. She starts having accidents with baby Liam to the point where Alex is very concerned for Sarah’s mental well-being. Baby items go missing. A lazy approach with the husband gaslighting Sarah made me roll my eyes, mainly because we have seen this trope time and time again. Both lead actors are exceptionally good, and made me long for them to have better material. Michael Shannon also inexplicably shows up as a creepy neighbor next door who knows more than he lets on about the shadowy mysteries of the family’s new home.
To start things off, Abandoned takes the exact story beats one is expecting, featuring minimal surprises. One moment presented as a twist felt so obvious all along that its eventual reveal amounts to little more than a shrug. Abandoned is simply a straightforward horror drama with cheap, dated scares, and postpartum symbology that falls flat. Strictly for Emma Roberts completionists, this flick will cause an unexplainable level of psychosis in any sane viewer. Yet, Abandoned still manages to be, at the very least, palatable and entertaining. Roberts gives it her all, and hits the right notes. One can certainly do worse, and casual horror/thriller viewers could potentially enjoy it.
Abandoned tries to snatch your baby as it heads to theaters on June 17th, and to Digital and On Demand on June 24th.
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