Just before he was due to graduate from one of the Midwest's prestigious Big Ten schools, one of my best friends was told by the registrar that he wasn't in the system and therefore did not exist. Luckily for Paul, this was eventually squared away in time for him to earn his baccalaureate degree.
However, computer errors happen more often than we'd like to believe with people slipping through the system, vanishing all the time. Far more troublesome of course is when sometimes individuals disappear not only from the hard drive and the security cameras but from an entire building as well.
And this is precisely what happens to actor Dean Cain's character Kevin Peterson who is dropped off at a hospital for an hour long outpatient surgical procedure and somehow falls off the radar once he's wheeled in for the procedure.
After hours of watching the clock in the waiting room, Kevin's girlfriend Mary Walsh (Brittany Murphy) finds herself in for a rude awakening when a visit to the nurse's station informs the young hardworking bank employee that they have no record of Kevin or his surgery in the computer mainframe.
Told that the doctor who was supposed to be fixing his ACL is currently away on vacation as well as the fact that they have no nurses who match the name of the woman that had prepped her boyfriend in Mary's presence before the operation, Mary becomes understandably alarmed.
When neither a suspicious administrator (Mimi Rogers) nor an intimidating security guard are able to assist her, Mary reaches out to the police, fearing that something sinister is going on at the county care facility, which is strangely closing down for renovations in less than twenty-four hours.
Growing increasingly doubtful of Mary's story, the administrator who initially became involved to help prevent a public relations scandal, directs her to a staff psychiatrist (Peter Bogdanovich). Based on a bottle of prescription antidepressants in Mary's bag, a tiny amount of dubious research and five minutes of conversation, he becomes convinced that Mary is delusional even though a kind police detective (Jay Pickett) isn't so sure he's ready to discount her side of the events completely.
Obviously because the screenwriter can only keep the mystery going for so long without giving Mary or the audience some type of lead, this paranoid thriller admittedly requires a pretty serious amount of suspension of belief to fully buy into from start to finish considering some questionable character behavioral decisions and a few gaping holes in logic.
Yet the Gaslight meets Twilight Zone meets Flightplan premise makes for a sharply compelling mindless ninety-three minute diversion, even if the autopilot action movie standoff finale does seem particularly uninspired.
Nonetheless, the filmmakers make the most with what they've got, heightening the tension level considerably with extremely bright and largely unflattering lighting, close-ups and a cinematographic approach that looked digital and chillingly lifelike.
And while initially it's a bit eerie seeing the late Brittany Murphy in her final film role especially when it surrounds medical workers who may not be the most trustworthy (therefore reminding us again about her tragic, senseless passing), her strength as a performer is there from the start.
Moreover, Abandoned works perhaps even better than it normally would have given what Murphy brings to the role as a certain actress that we're used to playing a select type a la her off-kilter work in Don't Say a Word and Girl, Interrupted, throwing us for a greater loop in questioning Mary's sanity because of her penchant for portraying those on the brink of madness.
And even though it's safe to say that we wish this wasn't the last film we have with which to remember her because it wasn't quite as strong as some of her others, it's nonetheless a solid suspenseful effort that will undoubtedly play best on the small screen whether on this DVD release or on cable television since it seems like a natural fit for a Lifetime evening movie.
Text ©2010, Film Intuition, LLC; All Rights Reserved. http://www.filmintuition.com Unauthorized Reproduction or Publication Elsewhere is Strictly Prohibited and in violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.
FTC Disclosure: Per standard professional practice, I received a review copy of this title in order to evaluate it for my readers, which had no impact whatsoever on whether or not it received a favorable or unfavorable critique.