A number of horror films, both iconic and forgettable, start with the familiar premise of a family hoping for a fresh start by moving into a new home, only for a variety of unsettling events to unfold. A similar premise is explored in the new film by writer/director Spencer Squire, with stars of the thriller Emma Roberts and John Gallagher Jr. both being drawn to the project with the tried-and-true premise and the ways in which that structure was circumvented by Squire. Abandoned hits theaters on June 17th and On Demand and Digital HD on June 24th.
"It was one of those scripts that I, first of all, I saw the title and I was immediately intrigued and I started reading it and it went directions that I couldn't have guessed, but it started with one of my favorite beginnings of a thriller or a horror movie, which is a family moves into a new house. I just love that," Roberts shared with ComicBook.com about her interest in not just starring in, but also in producing the film. "And the fact that Spencer Squire, our amazing writer/director, has found a way to reinvent that and do it, I felt like, for people my age. It felt like a millennial take on that story and, after I read it, I just couldn't stop thinking about it. It just really stuck with me, I couldn't shake it, and so I was like, 'I really wanna come on board with this and really wanna be involved.' So I was so excited to get to do that."
Abandoned follows the sharply intense lives of Sara (Emma Roberts), her husband Alex (John Gallagher Jr.), and their infant son as they move into a remote farmhouse, which harbors a dark, tragic history. As their home's past is revealed, the mother's fragility escalates to a state of psychosis that jeopardizes her own safety and that of her newborn son. Directed by Spencer Squire, the film stars Emma Roberts (American Horror Story, Nerve), John Gallagher Jr. (Peppermint), and Michael Shannon (Heart of Champions).
As a new father whose wife is experiencing seemingly otherworldly events, Gallagher's challenge was offering authentic reactions to the situation without descending into stereotypical behaviors.
"I think what was interesting about it, and this was something that Spencer Squire, writer/director, touched on early on was, he was like, 'I'm not interested in what you would classically see as the more outright trolling husband who is so suspicious and so doubtful and so distrustful of his partner that they become like a secondary villain in the film,' where you're like, 'This husband is driving me crazy because he's not giving her any space and he doesn't believe her,'" Gallagher expressed. "And what I liked about the way Spencer wove it in is he almost does start to arrive at that place a little bit as the story wears on, but he's trying so hard to ... It's almost like Spencer wrote the role as if he's resisting that trope of the genre, that this guy is trying to hard not to fall into, 'Well, I'm gonna be the caretaker and gatekeeper of my partner that I'm starting to worry about.' He's trying so hard to do the right thing by her, trying so hard to do the right thing by his kid, and just trying to take care of his family. I really felt the push and pull of that struggle."
Abandoned hits theaters on June 17th and On Demand and Digital HD on June 24th.
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