The Abode (2023) Review
The Abode begins in the 1800s somewhere near St. Augustine Florida. The young warrior Talako (Montana Cypress, The Transcenders, Purgatory Lounge) interrupts the pirate Redbeard (Chris Darsow) in the midst of killing a pair of women. He’s injured in the ensuing brawl but is found and cared for by Redbeard’s wife Lara (Ariadna Gonzalez Medina, Single in Miami, Just a Kiss) who soon starts an affair with him.
Needless to say, her husband is not happy when he finds out. He forces her to watch as he has Talako burned alive then sends her to a convent where she hangs herself. Three hundred years later, somewhere in Miami, a woman gives birth to a baby girl she names Lara who twelve years later will try to kill her father, a man who looks a lot like Redbeard. Her behaviour is baffling to her parents and therapist, but we know what’s going on.
Director Claudia La Bianca (The Journey of a Dragonfly, Island) and writers Andre Alves (Elis Regina Tribute Live at Town Hall, Special Series) and Nick Smith (8 Graves, Cold Soldiers) use the first half hour of The Abode to give us this backstory then jump to the present where Lara, again played by Ariadna Gonzalez Medina, is still haunted by nightmares and hallucinations.
For all it really adds to the film they could have skipped the segment with twelve year old Lara and introduced us to her issues in the present as she gets ready to go on a trip with her boyfriend David (Douglas Olivo, Deja Vu Film), her brother Luke (Jake Trew, indiviDUALITY, Ask Astrid) and their friends Harvey (Tilden Whitfield, Love Me 6ft Away, Fast First), Nita (Melissa Barto) and Lucy (Taina Dominguez, Bad Boys for Life, Pisces, Gemini). Add in Jessica (Karmel Bortoleti, Retribution: Venganza, Love in Quarantine) the Morticia Adams wannabe who is their destination’s caretaker and hopefully, it’s time to get spooky.
The Abode takes us on a walking tour of St. Augustine’s haunted locations and eventually ends up in a cemetery where they make the mistake of staying after dark and getting too close to the unmarked grave of a woman, I wonder who, that allegedly hung herself. But even after that things are only sporadically creepy with almost as much emphasis on who’s hooking up, or trying to hook up with, who.
What we get feels more like a Dark Shadows style gothic romance than a full on horror film. I kept waiting for Redbeard to start killing off the friends or for Talako to appear in front of his reincarnated love. But almost nothing happens. The Abode isn’t so much a slow burn as it is a slow smoulder with barely enough going on to keep me watching.
The filmmakers do try to make up for it in the last act with some Evil Dead and Exorcist body morphs and spinning heads as well as a bit of gore. But by that point, it feels more out of place than shocking and the final scene more comical than anything else. I can appreciate they were trying to do something different and the idea of a group reincarnation has so much interesting potential. But the film’s pacing and frequent lack of coherence undermine their efforts.
If you’re looking for a supernatural romance more so than a frightfest, The Abode might work for you. But the lack of a ghostly pirate making the cast walk the plank meant me timbers weren’t shivering.