If you ever want to gauge the level of cultural amnesia in this country, look no further than the back of a DVD case. Peter Bogdanovich, the man that directed The Last Picture Show and What’s Up, Doc? is listed on this Blu-ray as from The Sopranos. Given his impressive body of work it is irksome that The Sopranos is what the writer of the blurb considered Bogdanovich’s most memorable work.
There’s a sub-genre of missing people movies that walks across many different story types from episodes of The Twilight Zone to the classic movie Bunny Lake is Missing. The basic premise behind these stories is that somebody goes missing and nobody seems to know that the person even existed except for the hero. The question becomes if this is some vast conspiracy, some supernatural event, or if the hero is crazy.
The person that goes missing in Abandoned is Kevin (Dean Cain), the boyfriend of Mary (Brittany Murphy). Mary takes Kevin in for orthopedic surgery only to lose him in the vast labyrinth that is the hospital. Perhaps even more disconcerting is the fact that the hospital has no record of Kevin even being admitted and nobody seems to remember seeing him. Doubts about Kevin’s existence compound when the hospital administrator discovers that Mary has had a history of mental illness.
Part of the fun of a movie like this comes from the mystery. I think we all have our pet theories based on our preferences. People like me that enjoy supernatural stories hope that the reveal turns out to be something like an episode of The Twilight Zone. Conspiracy buffs hope that it’s a massive cover-up, and fans of psychological drama hope that the hero has gone crazy. Sometimes the speculation can be so much fun that the reveal disappoints. Thankfully, that doesn’t happen with this movie. The reveal opens up a larger story and it all comes together in a heart-pounding, satisfying end.
It certainly helps that this movie has a great cast. Brittany Murphy, Dean Cain, and Mimi Rogers always create compelling, entertaining performances, and this movie is no different. Cain’s performance in this movie is particularly good and against type for what he traditionally plays.
The elephant in the room, obviously, is that this is Brittany Murphy’s last performance before she died. Her performance was great, as always, but knowing that she’s dead did add a touch of bittersweetness to the movie for me. Fairly or not, I couldn’t help but compare this to Heath Ledger and The Dark Knight, and while the character Mary is nowhere near as complex or exciting as The Joker, as final performances go, this is very good.
All sentiment aside, Abandoned is a solid thriller with plenty of twists and turns to keep you entertained. It doesn’t rewrite the genre, but it’s a worthy addition to it and well worth a rental.
The movie is presented in Widescreen 1.78:1 aspect ratio with the audio in Dolby Digital 5.1. There audio and video quality was fine with no discernable problems.
The only extra on this Blu-ray was the trailer. Given that this was Murphy’s final role, I would have thought that there would have been some kind of tribute to her. In a way, though, I’m glad that there isn’t. I think that letting her performance speak for itself is tribute enough and a much classier way to go.
Abandoned is a fun, twisty, tense thriller with sharp writing and good performances making this a solid renter. This a good movie for those Friday nights when you just want to sit back and watch something fun. Recommended.
Anchor Bay presents Abandoned. Directed by: Michael Feifer. Starring: Brittany Murphy, Dean Cain, Mimi Rogers, Peter Bogdanovich, Jay Pickett, Tim Thomerson, Scott Anthony Leet, and America Young. Written by: Peter Sullivan. Running time: 93 minutes. Rating: PG-13. Released on DVD: August 24, 2010.