There is nobility and purpose in work — any work. Giving any job your best is a worthy goal to carry through life.
And it’s always generous when an actor with a name lends some of that name-recognition to a filmmaker and film project with none.
But Jason Patric — Jason PATRIC? — co-starring in a limited budget/limited release horror picture? Man, what happened?
“The Abandoned” happened. To Jason Patric. He’s not even the star of it (co-star), but his presence classes up this tepid psychological/supernatural thriller, un unstable woman in a haunted house tale that begins with little promise and ends with even less.
Louisa Krause is Julia — “Just call me Streak.” She’s medicated. She’s in school. She’s got to keep this new night watch job if she wants to get her daughter back.
But the watching goes on in a baroque monstrosity of an unfinished condo complex. The interiors look like the lobby of assorted Gilded Age New York hotels, or maybe Grand Central Station. It was never occupied, and the real estate bust shuttered it.
The young-and-dainty Julia has to keep things secure, monitor the wall of video monitors and occasionally do a walk-through, wearing a camera/microphone headset. That’s so her partner can see where she is and communicate with her.
But the partner is a bitter, sarcastic and sadistic practical joker who keeps porn pasted on his desk and a bottle in his pocket.
“Games? I don’t play GAMES.”
Patric plays Cooper as short-tempered, smart and mean.
“What’s your story?” incites a calm, furious tirade about “community college girls” hired, briefly, for a job they’re ill-suited for. But “Streak” insists she’s made of sterner stuff.
“I like the night.”
That doesn’t explain the deep end she plunges from when Cooper shuts her up in a lightless elevator. Or the voices she hears there, and in every other spooky corner of this vast piece of prime real estate.
The script quickly abandons Cooper’s acrid edge, as he reveals his inner and outer pain, and tries to understand Julia’s. Something is going bump in the night. Something happened here, years before. Someone, and we’re not talking about the homeless guy (Mark Margolis) she let in, is shutting doors behind her and creeping her out.
The film gives up any sense of mystery about who or what is behind Julia’s experiences. She sees things in mirrors, and we see human (ish) creatures on the ceilings. Maybe it’s all in her head, but making Cooper more of a suspect would have helped spook this thing up.
The closed-circuit video gimmick is wasted, as is Patric, a long way removed from “In the Valley of Elah” and “Rush.”
The few scary situations are more a product of mood lighting than acting and editing, which is usually better applied to build tension.
“The Abandoned” leaves us in the lurch, wondering at the nonsensical ending exactly what we wondered at the beginning. Jason Patric — Jason PATRIC? Man, what happened?
MPAA Rating: unrated, violence
Cast: Louisa Krause, Jason Patric, Mark Margolis
Credits: Directed by Eytan Rockaway, script by Ido Fluk. An IFC Midngith release.
Running time: 1:26