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THE ABANDONED

•             RELEASE DATE: In Theaters and on VOD January 8th
•             WRITTEN BY: Ido Fluk, Eytan Rockaway
•             DIRECTED BY: Eytan Rockaway
•             STARRING: Jason Patric, Louisa Krause, Mark Margolis

There ain’t nothin’ quite like an abandoned home (or massive interconnected series of homes) to get the ol’ hairs to rise. That’s probably why so many fright flicks have utilized this very kind of locale—and the film we are about to look at next is no different! Let’s see if THE ABANDONED should remain that way or if we should move in for a spell!

 THE ABANDONED is the tale of a troubled young mother with the ridiculous nickname of Streak (Krause) who takes a job working a graveyard security shift in an empty, partially unfinished, ultra-luxurious apartment complex. On her first shift she discovers the complex has more to offer than empty rooms and hallways—namely ol’ Streak is confronted with mysterious locked rooms where security cameras have been disabled, strange hallucinatory visions, and whispering disembodied voices. As she delves deeper into the dark recesses of the building, she discovers disturbing secrets about the complex’s hidden past.

With its trope-ensconced story and frequent jump scares, you may be quick to dismiss THE ABANDONED, but I’m going to urge you to give it a shot. While the flick has an air of the overly familiar, it does have a lot to offer a horror hound. Firstly, the actors are top-rate; Krause is equal parts strong and vulnerable and comes across as genuine; Jason Patric, as Streak’s smart-ass, lascivious (yet equally troubled) partner is great as well, as is genre stalwart Mark Margolis as a creep-tastic homeless man.

Along with the strong acting is equally strong die-recting and sound design that really makes for a slick, polished production. I also really dug how this partially played out as a neo-Gothic thriller with its young woman positioned within a large, ornate structure facing supernatural menace.

Well-paced with great ambience and performances, THE ABANDONED is well worth checking out even if we have heard this tune before!

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PAINKILLERS

•             RELEASE DATE: Available on DVD and Digital January 12th
•             WRITTEN BY: Jason Groce, Kirk Roos, Peter Winther
•             DIRECTED BY: Peter Winther
•             STARRING: Tahmoh Penikett, Lesley-Ann Brandt, Colm Feore

A group of soldiers, a remote wintery location, alien artifacts? What the hell is this, PREDATOR vs. THE THING? I wish…

Nope, this is PAINKILLERS, the tale of a platoon that wakes up in a military hospital in the snowy peaks of Afghanistan with zero memories of the mission they were just on. Slowly their memories return and reveal that some seriously wacky s–t went down on said mission, involving crazy (and homicidal) hallucinations and otherworldly goings-on. And then the truth behind their mission begins to be revealed.

The first thing you will notice about PAINKILLERS is that it has a case of the cheaps. It looks like that one flick you always happen to come into the middle of on the SyFy Channel that is set primarily in what looks like the store room of your local supermarket. But you know me; a film’s budget will never stop me from enjoying it if it’s got something going for it.

The problem with PAINKILLERS is that it sorta doesn’t. The story is OK enough (I liked how the film starts on a mystery and the details are slowly revealed over time while presenting new twists), and the acting isn’t terrible, but the story just lacks that extra “something” that would help it rise above its limitations.

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