This movie's title, along with its tagline "Your Body, Their Experiment" pretty much sums up what it's about. Dave (Trevor Morgan, who you might remember as the kid who needed rescuing in Jurassic Park III) along with his girlfriend Jessica (Tessa Ferrer) are enjoying a trip to Los Angeles, though you can guess with this movie being titled Abducted that their fun isn't going to last very long. Sure enough, they are hanging out up at Griffith Park when they're suddenly both hit by tranquilizer darts. When they wake up, they're locked in a dark room stripped of everything except their underwear. They can see a bit of light creeping in under the door from the hallway outside, and hear people walking and breathing heavily, but they say nothing leaving Dave and Jessica at a total loss as to where they are or what their abductors want with them. They soon discover a security camera in the room, and food is periodically slid under the door. On some days, they're visited by one of the figures from outside wearing an orange haz-mat outfit and gas mask, still breathing heavily, who fills the room with a gas that makes them pass out and wake up hours later. They start theorizing who these people might be. Since Jessica's father is an army general, she thinks their situation might be politically motivated- Dave suggests they may be from the Taliban.
After a few days their clothes and cell phones are returned to them. The phones can't receive any signal to call for help, but Dave begins recording a video diary in case his phone might be the only thing found by anyone on the outside. He soon receives a text message saying "NO ESCAPE. RESIST = DEATH." The next time the two are gassed, they wake up in separate rooms by themselves. Jessica discovers a bandage on the back of her neck, under which is an odd-looking wound, along with needle marks on other parts of her. When she's gassed and taken out again, this time she ends up waking up on an operating table and is able to search around a bit. She finds the video monitors that she's been watched on, along with a computer open to a news story about her disappearance. She also sees a strange little girl asleep in another room before she's discovered and captured again, but this time they return her to Dave. They are soon joined by another captured couple, Justin (Doug Haley) and Summer (Emily Graham-Handley), who say they were grabbed from the area around Griffith Park also. They tell Dave and Jessica that their disappearance has been a big news story, with their pictures posted around the city in an effort to find them. The room is soon gassed again and the two newcomers disappear. As the movie progresses, other captured victims are found, each with a different theory of what the abductors want from them, although they all tell of being put to sleep and waking up with odd things done to them. Although they are still continuously separated and moved around, the captives begin to formulate ways to escape.
While Abducted is a rather small production, it creates just the right atmosphere that had me drawn in to it. An empty hospital building was used for the place where the victims are kept, and most of it is lit darkly with green lights. The captors are always accompanied by slow, heavy breathing sounds, which is a bit of a cliché but it works quite well here. Despite the grisly premise of victims being dragged out of their rooms for surgical procedures, there's really not much gore here with most of the nasty stuff happening off camera which may be a disappointment to some viewers but a relief to others. First-time viewers can expect many surprises and a lot of guessing. My one real complaint about the movie is its ending- while I won't spoil it here, it's one of those endings that is rather ambiguous- you'll know what I mean if you see this.
Abducted looks about average for a standard DVD- it would of course look much better on Blu-Ray, but it doesn't appear to have been released on that format. The full 16x9 picture still shows adequate detail without any obvious compression artifacts, even in the dark scenes.
The DVD includes both Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2-channel sound mixes. The 2-channel mix is rather good decoded in Pro-Logic II, with centered dialogue with music and ambient sounds spread through the front and rear. There are many quiet moments with sudden sound effects sure to make you jump, and the sound design accompanying the building's lighting setup is also very effective- in one room a light constantly blinks on and off which gets on the captives' nerves, and this is punctuated by a droning sound.
Sad to say however, something went wrong with the 5.1 track here. It seems to actually be a mono track with the same audio spread into both the front and rear channels. Dialogue annoyingly comes from every speaker (since I keep EX decoding on at all times, I got all the sound from the two rear-most speakers with no sound in the main rears), with even the LFE channel registering at the same rate as lines are spoken, which I've seen on a few DVDs with fake 5.1 sound remixes. I was able to check out the first two minutes of the movie on Vudu and it appears to have a real 5.1 mix there, so this seems to be a disc mastering error. This is quite unfortunate as this movie has potential for a great 5.1 mix, but the two-channel mix is still quite effective and should be the track you select when watching this, assuming the disc isn't later corrected.
The DVD includes a 5-minute behind-the-scenes featurette, which is interesting just to see a more straightforward look at the empty hospital building this was shot in. I've been fascinated by vacant buildings in general, and this one is used to its greatest advantage here. The trailer for Abducted is also included, and the disc opens with a trailer for We Are What We Are.
Abducted is an intense, atmospheric thriller that will keep you guessing until the end, although I do have to say without spoiling it that it was a bit frustrating how unclear the ending was. While the DVD botches the 5.1 sound mix, the 2-channel matrixed surround mix included still greatly enhances the mood, and this is another good one to watch late at night, alone with the sound turned up.
Jesse Skeen is a life-long obsessive media collector (with an unhealthy preoccupation with obsolete and failed formats) and former theater film projectionist. He enjoys watching movies and strives for presenting them perfectly, but lacks the talent to make his own.