I’m sortof glad I watched The Ring first and Abandon second. I was so scared by The Ring that even just sitting in the darkened theater, waiting for Abandon to start, I started feeling a level of suspense and fear unrivaled by anything in the actual movie.
Abandon stars Katie Holmes, Benjamin Bratt, and Charlie Hunnam as the possibly dead ex-boyfriend who’s still hanging around harassing Katie. That’s right, Katie Holmes plays a character called Katie. Anyway, the basic story of Abandon is about Katie and her relationship with the 2-years-missing boyfriend and the cop just-outta-rehab-alcoholic who is investigating his disappearance. The flashbacks to the boyfriend don’t tell us why she fell for him or why she’s scared of his return, the “detective” doesn’t seem to actually do any detecting until after he quits his job, and my favorite plot was a sub-plot (Katie and her best friend competing for a job at the same presitigous firm) and my favorite character was a supporting character (Katie’s best friend, played by the ever-charming-and-wonderful Zooey Deschanel).
The missing boyfriend begins appearing, but he seems to be stalking Katie. He follows her around and only approaches her when alone, and when he does approach her it seems alternately passionate and threatening. Which would explain why she was scared, if there was any evidence he was threatening before his return; she was certainly scared of him before seeing him again. Okay, okay, enough about Katie’s emotional responses not making any sense and being mostly unbelievable. If I really wanted to go into that, I’d have to talk about her childhood abandonment issues, her bizarre relationship with a psychiatrist, the way she seemed alternately stressed out about being overdue on slash unable to complete her thesis and to have forgotten she’s a student at all, and maybe a few other failings between the writing and the acting to portray believable human emotions and reactions.
I don’t want to say that Abandon is not worth watching at all, but the scariest moment for me was when my mind started to wander and I started thinking about The Ring. A little later came the dreaded moment that ensures I won’t be adding this movie to my collection of DVDs, and will likely avoid re-watching it: I actually found myself saying out loud “well, I’m bored”. It wasn’t time to walk out. It turned out that some of the best of the movie was after that very moment so late in the movie, but only because of the not-entirely-impossible-to-figure-out twists, without which the movie would have been entirely unwatchable.
So, not scary. The possibility that her ex-boyfriend might come back after a couple of years and knock Katie around just doesn’t strike fear into me the way a deadly, unknowable, infectious evil for which there is no clear or direct defense does (ie: The Ring). Zooey was a delight. Benjamin Bratt sure is hot, and shows endearing vulnerability as a struggling alcoholic. Katie Holmes still looks like smooth skin stretched over dangerously fragile bones, a skeleton reminding us of the dangers of anorexia. If you want to see a semi-scary movie with enough mystery to keep you interested, but not so scary (The Ring) that it keeps you up at night, this might be it. Or it might be Below, another scary movie in theatres now, which I plan to see soon.