Having recently moved to Los Angeles, Rachel (Sarah Nicklin) attempts to put a harrowing past behind her by throwing herself into her latest job as a security guard. She works during the day whenever she can, on account of her fear of the dark.
Which brings us to Memorial Day weekend, where Rachel receives a call from her boss Gregg asking her to cover for an absent colleague that evening. Initially trying to get out of the task, Rachel reluctantly ends up agreeing - on the condition that Gregg finds a replacement to take over her shift by no later than midnight.
And so, Rachel makes her way to the destination: Mayfield Addiction Clinic. Arriving there at 8pm, she's given a quick tour of the place by Anna (Stacy Snyder) - the last employee to leave before the weekend begins proper. Anna warns Rachel that the old building is prone to making a lot of weird noises in the night, and also advises that she must keep doors and windows locked at all times: the clinic is situated in a bad neighbourhood, where the residents would love to get their hands on the methadone contained within. Rachel seems to miss the part where Anna tells her three security guards have already gone astray from the place in the last month ...
As Rachel is left alone, she begins to explore her surroundings. Sure enough, strange noises begin to freak her out - as does a telephone call from Gregg explaining he can't find anyone to take over her shift, so she'll just have to stay there overnight.
The weirdness escalates. The discovery of a cat's bloodied corpse on the clinic's doorstep; the sudden appearance of creepy caretaker Simms (Christopher Parker); Rachel's vision of a zombie-like figure crawling across the floor towards her. Of course, it doesn't help matters when there's a power-cut, her torch battery runs flat and she's left in the dark. Oh, and would you believe it, the mobile 'phone reception out there is terrible too.
In the meantime, gumshoe Phillip (Carlos Ramirez) is busy stalking the streets at night, smoking cigarettes and narrating his inner thoughts to us as he tries to make sense of several clues all pointing towards a murderous history at Mayfield Addiction Clinic.
The two storylines are destined to intertwine, and bring to light some harsh truths from Rachel's own disturbed past...
ABANDONED DEAD benefits from an agreeable, credible performance by Nicklin; a nice double-effort from Robert Adams in the fields of cinematography and musical score; a concerted effort by writer-producer-director Mark W Curran to keep the spooky atmospherics boiling.
Sadly there's just a little too much cliché to the haunted house conventions for this to really get nerves jangling (the ghostly whispered voices calling Rachel's name, for example), while that shoehorned detective sub-plot is both distracting and wholly unconvincing in its attempts at emulating noir thriller tropes. Oh, and the twist ending is easily predicted.
Still, ABANDONED DEAD is worth seeing for Nicklin's robust performance and a welcome cameo turn from NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD's original Barbara herself, Judith O'Dea.
Left Films' UK DVD presents ABANDONED DEAD in its original 16x9 ratio. Images are clear and sharp, though the digital photography dictates than darker scenes - of which there are many - suffer from a somewhat washed-out look. Still, when colours are present during lighter scenes, they are impressively prominent. At 74 minutes and 26 seconds in length, the film is uncut.
English audio is served up in a dependable, albeit unremarkable, 2.0 mix.
Events open to a static main menu page. An animated scene selection option allows access to the movie via 8 chapters.
If you're looking for film-related extras, I'm afraid the only thing on offer is ABANDONED DEAD's original 98-second trailer.
Elsewhere we get trailers for a small group of other titles available from Left Films: SCARS, THE HORROR NETWORK, ONUS, CONSUMPTION, JONAH LIVES and WORM. The disc is also defaulted to open with trailers for the first three.
ABANDONED DEAD plays too closely to the rules of traditional haunted house fare to offer any surprises, but does benefit from decent production design and a great lead actress. It wants to spook us rather than nauseate us with lashings of gore and occasionally succeeds. It's no classic but at just 74 minutes in length it's certainly worth a look.
Review by Stuart Willis
|Released by Left Films|