Anchor Bay // 2010 // 87 Minutes // Rated PG-13
Reviewed by Judge William Lee (Retired) // August 23rd, 2010
No clues. No evidence. No answers. No trace.
If you have any fond memories of the late actress Brittany Murphy, if you cherish her versatility in drama (Girl, Interrupted), comedy (Uptown Girls), noir-inspired action (Sin City) and voice work for animation (King of the Hill) then you must steer clear of this awful thriller set in a hospital.
Mary (Brittany Murphy) accompanies her boyfriend Kevin (Dean Cain, The Perfect Husband: The Laci Peterson Story) to the hospital for a routine outpatient surgical procedure. When he doesn't return after a long wait, an increasingly agitated Mary questions the hospital staff about Kevin's whereabouts. Turns out that Kevin was never checked in, his doctor isn't working that day and no one else has seen him. The unsympathetic hospital staff questions Mary's sanity and then it's discovered that she's on a very strong prescription for anti-depressants. Is she crazy and did she just dream up Kevin's existence?
The plot of Abandoned is similar to the movie Flightplan, starring Jodie Foster, but transplanted to a hospital. In both movies, the respective heroine's loved one disappears and then she displays increasingly hysterical behavior when no one believes her story. Flightplan is more successful in carrying out the ruse because of Foster's convincing performance and that story's sci-fi setting, on a futuristic passenger plane, made the characters' behavior believable because it was all within a fantasy construct. Abandoned is set in a hospital based in the real world of today. When its characters act in unbelievable ways it simply doesn't wash.
The movie wants to keep the viewer guessing but it's obvious that there is a trick going on and the movie is just going through the motions until the inevitable twists are revealed. It's mechanical plotting filled with one-note stock characters. Mimi Rogers (The Loop) is the stern hospital administrator who doesn't want crazy Mary jeopardizing her operation. Peter Bogdanovich (Humboldt County) is the cold and clinical psychiatrist who delivers the professional assessment of Mary's mental condition. Scott Anthony Leet (Freeway Killer) plays the hospital's head of security, with the personality of a menacing but inept henchman, who snarls at Mary until she's able to put him down with a single blow. The only character who is remotely believable as an actual human being is the cop played by Jay Pickett (The Boston Strangler: The Untold Story) even though the script makes him deliver a terrible "here's my tragic back story so you'll trust me" monologue to Mary.
Sadly, a huge shortcoming of the movie is Brittany Murphy. She quickly goes into hysterical woman mode and only varies her performance by the degree of fatigue she shows (whether intentional or not I can't tell). I have to refer to the summary on the back of the disc's packaging to be reminded that Mary is a "high-powered career woman" because nothing on screen suggests that. What's worse is that she looks terrible. Her hair looks dirty, her make-up is inconsistent and caked on. She looks tired and unhealthy. I wanted to avert my eyes because it didn't seem right that I should be staring at her.
Abandoned (Blu-ray) is treated to a good high-def transfer that reveals the movie's shoddy production values. The AVC 1080p image is detailed and crisp. Skin tones and textures look fine for most of the cast but Brittany looks horrible. The lighting is competent but the colors in some brighter scenes look pasty and in the darker scenes there is minor digital noise across the shadows. The Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound does a good job of supporting the visuals. Dialogue is strong and clear. The functional suspense music maintains an ambient presence without being obtrusive. PCM 5.1 audio is the uncompressed audio option.
Aside from the trailer, there are no extras on this disc and I'm grateful for their absence. I'm glad I didn't see any interviews with Brittany flogging this movie and I'm glad there are no marketing materials trying to capitalize on her last film.
The movie is a low point in Brittany Murphy's short career. I'd like to pretend there are no clues, no evidence, and no trace of its existence.
Review content copyright © 2010 William Lee; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Anchor Bay
* 1.78:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* PCM 5.1 Surround (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 87 Minutes
Release Year: 2010
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13