Abduction 101 is the story about a trio of hot women at a cabin in the woods, isolated from everyone – you know, that old horror chestnut. They hear rumours of a strange cult in the building next to them, and curiosity gets the better of them. Once they investigate they find themselves in a fight for their life’s against horrors worse than they could have possibly imagined.
Abduction 101 admittedly hit me home. I love horror films. Whether it be high-concept creepy thrills (such as It and Scream), or art-house phycological thrillers (The Babadook and The Exorcist), or trashy fun (Suspiria and The Evil Dead), if it’s good I love it.
Because of this, when I was taking a film course in college, whenever I was assigned a film project it was always a horror film. They were always wacky, over-the-top and made to shock. Watching Abduction 101 reminded me of those days. This is both what I loved about it – and what I didn’t.
I’d say there was a huge chunk of this film, I’d say a good part of act one and act three, that made this film feel a lot like a student film. It was very pretentious, especially with scenes concerning the narrator of the film. I’ll be honest, while this character was essentially used to spell out what the point of the film – and the director’s theory on horror films and why we watch them – I don’t think she was necessary for the film.
I felt the film slow down whenever the focus was put on her. I don’t blame the actress, this felt more like an issue in writing. Her dialogue felt very disconnected from what was going on in the rest of the film and felt like philosophy that just isn’t deep or interesting. I feel that this disconnect was deliberate, which makes me beg the question, why?
The third act’s issue was how amateur it felt (for lack of a better word). It felt like the budget of the film was not able to achieve the vision intended, and the director just didn’t do a fantastic job of hiding it. This was the kind of film I would have made back in my college days. The editing was clearly hiding effect changes – distractingly so – and the music was repeated, in your face and very distracting. It just didn’t work for me and had me chuckling as it went along.
All that being said, the entirety of act two, and the later half of act one, was really good. It was trashy fun, full of shock and sleaze, it was also well paced with a good mystery to it and some likable characters. The budget is certainly low, a fact that isn’t too well hidden, but the sets, costumes and even the gore effects are excellent.
The atmosphere is what had me hooked. The mystery of what is happening is intoxicating – even if you guess what’s going on, you’re still hooked to see events unfold. Once the mystery is solved, the atmosphere changes to an unrelenting nightmare. Discomfort is the only word I can use to describe how I felt – but in a good way.
In the way of “God I hope they make it out alive”. For all the film’s issues I have to admit, not many horror films these days achieve such a feat. I hope to see more like this in future. At the end of the day, I will always wish to see something try, maybe not succeed but definitely had me connect with me over a shallow, corporate-made cash-grab like Captain Marvel. At least Abduction 101 has a soul and no small amount of charm.
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