Originally released last November as part of Lionsgate and After Dark's one-weekend-only "film festival," Nacho Cerda's The Abandoned re-appears this weekend in about 1,000 multiplexes. Despite the fact that the film played at the Toronto International Film Festival, it arrives in American theaters without the benefit of press screenings, which kind of makes one wonder why Lionsgate even bothered to strike a thousand prints of the thing. (By my estimation, the After Dark flick that stood the best chance at box office success was Mike Mendez' The Gravedancers, but I can only assume the LG folks know what they're doing – or perhaps they were contractually required to give this thing a theatrical release.) Either way, the movie's sure to die a quick and unnoticed death at the box office – not because it's a terrible little ghost story (although it sure ain't great) but because it's dry, redundant and entirely bereft of cinematically salable components.

Anastasia Hille stars as Marie, a 40-some year-old woman who arrives in Russia to take ownership of a ramshackle old property that's been abandoned for about four decades. She hitches a ride with a grumpy driver, arrives at the outrageously remote location ... and then wanders around the area for about 25 minutes. Then up pops a stranger called Nikolai (Karel Roden) who claims to be her long-lost brother, and together the pair ... wander through the house for about 25 minutes. Through the magic of sketchy prologues, evasive dialogue and the always-reliable flashback gallery, we learn that Marie and Nikolai may have been orphaned infants who were taken in by a loony woman and her monster of a husband. Or maybe not. Maybe Marie and Nikolai are just ghosts trapped in an alternate reality or...