In the world of teen suspense thrillers, originality is never an issue. Studios continuously churn out these movies (thankfully there have been less as of late) and usually they die off just as fast as the dumb teens in them. What is really disappointing about Abandon is that it is the directorial debut of Stephen Gaghan (Rules of Engagement), who won the Academy Award for his adaptation of Traffic. Abandon is many levels dumber than Traffic, and pulls out nearly every cliche before the final credits roll. The one thing it does get right is a McKinsey interview. But will most people watching ever heard of the company or ever sit through one of those interviews? Doubtful.

The protagonist is Catherine Burke (Katie Holmes, The Gift, Wonder Boys), a highly stressed senior. She is stressed about her looming thesis deadline, her upcoming interview, graduation, and just about everything else in sight. Two years ago, her boyfriend Embry Langan (Charlie Hunnam, Whatever Happened to Harold Smith?), a performance artist, disappeared after a play he put on. It was devastating to Catherine, who claims to be over the entire incident. Now, for a reason never explained, detective Wade Handler (Benjamin Bratt, Pinero, Traffic) is assigned to look into Embry's disappearance. Here is one of the many deficient places within Gaghan's script. Nobody knows why Wade is doing this, Wade, doesn't understand why, and the audience is just as perplexed. However, just as Wade begins asking Catherine and her friends about Embry, Catherine notices that strange things begin to happen.

Embry is everywhere that she is, and he's none too happy about things. As smart as the Catherine character is, she still insists on not telling anybody. Wade and Catherine also find themselves attracted to each other. There is very little suspense in Abandon, until the end when things just become lame. The first half of the movie is actually pretty dull. Gaghan spent far too much time setting up the story, focusing on how hectic and stressed Catherine was. That said, there are a few good things about the movie. Zooey Deschanel (The Good Girl, Big Trouble) shows up with the same droll humor she seems to have in every role she takes, and as of yet, it's still funny. She is the only lively thing in an otherwise nearly comatose film. Gaghan does some nice things with mood. This is the darkest college in recent memory, and every corner and room looks dangerous. Catherine's stress level is easy to relate to given everything she is going through, and Gaghan does a moderately good job of trying keep the audience guessing as to whether much of what she thinks she is seeing is just stress. Still, any good that Gaghan does with the mood he ruins with dumb storytelling. The ending is pretty obvious and remarkably stupid, even given the type of film Abandon is.

Haro Rates It: Pretty Bad.
1 hour, 39 minutes, Rated PG-13 for drug and alcohol content, sexuality, some violence, and language.

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