Fantasia 2023 Review THE ABANDONED, Slow Burn Crime Thriller Rewards With Horror Thrills And Chills

Editor, News; Toronto, Canada (@Mack_SAnarchy)
Fantasia 2023 Review THE ABANDONED, Slow Burn Crime Thriller Rewards With Horror Thrills And Chills
Police detective Wu Jie sits in her car down by the river holding her service pistol in her hand. Clearly distressed she places the gun below her chin, intent on taking her own life when she is interrupted by panicked youths who have found something along the shore. It is the body of a young Thai woman, one of the thousands of undocumented workers living in Taiwan. This was no accidental drowning, her body was horribly mutilated.
A pattern emerges, someone is targeting foreign workers and leaving their mutilated bodies to be found by their employers, who won't report them to the police for fear of consequences. Detective Wu is forced to put her personal matters aside and take on the case. She is assigned a rookie cop, Wilson, and with the reluctant help of an illicit employment broker, You-Sheng, the trio needs to find this murderer before they kill again. 
The Abandoned is an absolutely terrific slow-burn crime and horror thriller from Taiwanese director Tseng Ying-Ting and his co-writers Pin Chun Lin and Yi-Chien Yang. Set against the real-life situation of undocumented workers in Taiwan their film is something that fans of franchises like the Stieg Larsson Millenium series - minus the technobabble - or other slow-burn crime thrillers from the region like the classic Memories of Murder would really appreciate. 
Themes of love and loss are where the emotions run hot in The Abandoned. Detective Wu, or Ace as her colleagues call her, and You-Sheng have both lost someone they loved. Wu presents themselves as cool and collected most of the time - the consummate professional police officer - but the strain of such a personal loss and the pressure of the job do create cracks that show from time to time through raw expressions of sadness, frustration, and anger. 
You-Sheng runs hot all the time, he has the most to lose. He is the one handling foreign workers when they arrive in the country. His ex-girlfriend, a foreign worker herself, is also missing and her sister has come illegally into the country to look for her. 
Both Janine Chang and Ethan Juan nail these roles. They are balanced by the rookie cop, Wilson, played impossibly cute by Chloe Xiang. Tseng plays on this to provide scant moments of levity in an otherwise dark mystery horror thriller. Tension and mystery run steadily for about an hour, establishing character and emotions. Tseng is patient while laying out the mystery of the murders, relishing in holding back on giving clues about who is responsible until they absolutely have to. 
The pace begins to pick up halfway through as Ace and You-Sheng start to work together to solve the case before there is another murder. As they put together the pieces of the puzzle they discover the common link to all the women. Not only the link but also a greater sense of urgency when they realize that time is running out before there is another victim.  
The Abandoned concludes with an equally breathtaking and unsettling climax, the type that would make the likes of David Fincher blush. After all the excitement of a thrilling finale, we come back full circle to Wu in the epilogue. The Abandoned started with her, it is only proper that we end with her. 
It gives the audience a moment to catch their breath but there is also the unfinished business of her personal demons. Having fought with a figurative demon what of her personal ones? Has saving the lives of further foreign workers change her outlook on her own life? 
The Abandoned is for fans of slow-burn crime thrillers who won’t flinch when the horror of the murders kicks in. Excellent character and emotion-building are bolstered by genuine thrills and chills as time runs out for the killer’s next victim. 
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