U.S. soldier, Miles Willis (Jonathan Rosenthal), is shot and wounded during an intense firefight in Iraq. As he tries to radio for help, a sudden blinding light surrounds him, and he awakens to find himself trapped in a strange, colorless cube with nothing inside but his own combat gear. As time passes, the cube begins to change: fluctuating extreme temperatures, random shifts of gravity, and strange writing appearing on the walls. His only communication is with one person — a mystery woman who calls him on his satellite phone, claiming to be trapped in a similar space. As the clock ticks, the two of them must figure out who has them, why they were taken, and how to escape.
Jason Satterlund shows he’s capable of directing his entire cast, all the while working with a less than desirable screenplay, written by Dwain Worrell. The viewer is made to believe a satisfying conclusion will be at the end of the tunnel, but unfortunately that’s not the case.
As soon as Miles finds himself trapped in an ever-changing cube that likes to test his endurance, we see writings on the walls appear out of nowhere. Some are Biblical verses, others are warnings or even mathematical puzzles. Any of these could be hints at how to get out of this entrapment, but Miles rather gets angry or yell into nothingness. Luckily, a mystery woman brings some distraction as he gets a phone call and things are put into perspective. We find out he’s trapped in a space that defies space and time.
Those who are worried this is a The Cube ripoff can rest assure, The Abandon isn’t an inch as clever as the classic horror film. The film gets presented as a horror/mystery, but there’s no suspense or horrific events that honour either of these genres. It’s hard to categorise this film at all, but I’d go with thriller with minor thrills. Sure, there’s a bit of blood that gets spilled from being shot right before Miles got trapped into his cube, but other than that there’s little to no blood-spill.
What does make the viewing experience a little bearable is cinematographer Ray Huang‘s skilful camerawork to keep things interesting. As he works with a confined space, he finds Rosenthal’s good angles and elevates his acting by keeping the camera close to him at all times. The cube and its movements are a bit too one-note to be memorable, which doesn’t help the narrative whatsoever. The Abandon would’ve worked better as it didn’t end the way it did, setting up for something completely different, making it seem as if we’ve just watched a pilot to a show that’ll never see the light of day.
Reviewed February 5, 2022 (screener provided by publicist). Rating: TBC. Running time: 96 min.
PRODUCTION: A Mill House Motion Pictures production. Producers: Victoria Hadeler & Regis Terencio. Executive producers: Jordan Foley & Jonathan Rosenthal.
CREW: Director: Jason Satterlund. Writer: Dwain Worrell. Cinematography: Ray Huang. Music: Geoff Koch.
CAST: Jonathan Rosenthal, Tamara Perry, Dan Kyle.