Starring: Jonathan Rosenthal and Tamara Perry
Directed by: Jason Satterlund
Running Time: 96 minutes
Back in the summer of 2002 I went to my local Blockbuster to rent “Cube” after going down an internet rabbit hole. “Cube” is about multiple people waking up in different colored cubed shaped rooms with tiny doors on all sides leading into another similar cube in a different color. The movie kept building and building, making you wonder what was going on and if they’d get out. I only mention this film because I kept getting that vibe from “The Abandon,” a film about an American soldier in Iraq who’s wounded during a firefight, only to be mysteriously transported to a cubed, bland room with no doors.
Miles (Rosenthal), the soldier, spends probably the first 20 minutes by himself in this cubed room, examining his surroundings at first before tending to his injuries he suffered in the gun battle. Before too long, his satellite phone rings. On the other line is Damsey (Perry), a woman who sometimes seems to know more about Miles than she leads on, but nonetheless she isn’t a soldier or in any way shape or form connected to the powers that have imprisoned Miles. She’s an elementary school math teacher who is also imprisoned in a cubed, bland room with no doors.
Despite the slow, and I mean really slow, start to the film, “The Abandon” begins to pick up as Miles’ and Damsey’s conversation gets more and more personal. It’s during these moments where some of the theories people might have begun to take shape. At the beginning, it’s easy to believe that aliens may be behind the whole plot, but before the final frame, I had several theories in my head, including that this may in fact be a secret sequel to “Cube.” That being said, these kinds of films hinge on two things, whether or not the person on screen can carry the somewhat solo adventure and if the ending reveal is worth it. Let’s call it a draw.
“The Abandon” is rarely boring past the first 20ish minutes of Miles frantically pacing around the cube and testing the walls. Not only are little bread crumbs scattered about for us to pick and piece together, but the film manages to create tension between Miles and Damsey, making us question Damsey’s motives and sometimes Miles’ motives. There’s a fascinating cat and mouse game for most of the film, that is until the climax and finale. So, this brings me to the payoff.
It’s not very good. The ambiguous nature of the ending is a bit too ambiguous. While I feel like there can be a straightforward answer, the messaging of the film is mixed. I won’t ruin the ending, but I really want to because it’s difficult to discuss films like these without spoiling everything. These films demand you watch through until the end because the end is what’s supposed to bring it all together, but “The Abandoned” seems to have abandoned any attempts at a cohesive conclusion. That’s not to say the rest of the film isn’t interesting or good, but it feels dampened by its finale.