Screamfish: The Abandoned – When Your Fear Rules You

screamfish iter 2Streak (Louisa Krause) is down to her last chance. She’s taken the night shift as a security guard for an abandoned building in hopes that she can earn the cash (and job stability) to take care of her young son. But during her first night on the job, Streak’s emotional wellbeing begins to fray (even more), and she questions whether the building is out to get her or if it’s all in her head.

Eytan Rocaway’s directorial debut is?creepy, with tension-filled moments that begin as the taxi driver warns Streak that she doesn’t want to be in this part of town, and linger long after the credits fade. Krause is herself is spectacular as the woman who seems to be drowning in her own anxieties. But it’s only paranoia if they’re?not really out to get you, right?

abandonedmainJason Patric co-stars as the disabled security guard “mentor” that Streak is stuck with through her first night. What audiences will want to parse out after the film is over is how much of this is actually on Patric’s character and how much of it is in Streak’s mind. But that’s the question for the whole film, right?

For horror fans, the first hour and twenty minutes are probably dreamy. (I wouldn’t know; horror is not normally my cup of tea.) But the last two-to-three minutes justify the film’s nuances in a way that left something to be desired. Sure, the mood is killer, and the pacing is obviously well thought out, but the ending feels like a wrapped-up moment that you may (I did) see coming. It’s an unfortunate horror film motif that’s not about talking dolls or slashing Kruegers, but is instead the ultimate reveal: what world is this film based in?

abandoned 2Whether you dig it or not, the film raises some questions about our own reality and how we deal with our fear. I John 4:18 says that perfect love casts out fear, but we all deal with our anxieties differently. When someone is chasing you, you should run! But what happens when you think everyone is chasing you? What happens when your fear forces you into a position you don’t want to go? In Streak’s case, there’s plenty to be unpacked about childhood and past trauma, which jives with a mental illness diagnosis… whipped into a froth by a dark building with a past.

The Abandoned?(formerly?The Confines) is better than your average January film. Just don’t expect to let it leave you alone when it’s done.

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