Film Review: Abandoned Mine

A retro stalk-and-slash movie with a twist, <i>Abandoned Mine </i>(shot as simply <i>The Mine</i>) pits five young adults against one another and themselves when they get lost in a derelict goldmine, but gets bogged down in repetitious variations on sc

It's Halloween in Happy Valley, and four longtime friends whose lives are gradually drifting in separate directions get together for a spooky day of fun and chills like the ones they used to cook up in high school. Ringleader Brad (Reiley McClendon), the cute, popular teen jock whose life appears to be going nowhere fast, has organized a costumed camping trip to a nearby mine and brought helmet-cams for everyone so they can make a movie about their big adventure.

Of course, old friends have old business. Former teammate Jim (Adam Hendershott) has fared even less well than Brad: He was always dumb, but now he's a dumb, fat, marginally employed perpetual adolescent whose idea of a great costume is his old football uniform. Brad's ex, intense, ambitious Laurie (Saige Thompson), has a full scholarship to Stanford University School of Medicine (her costume: doctor) and can't wait to get out of town for good, but in the meantime she's rooming with pretty girlie-girl Sharon (Alexa Vega)—the inevitable fairy princess—who works at the local big-box store. She's also dating Brad and hasn't figured out how to tell Laurie.

And as if that weren't enough, Laurie shows up with her brainy pal Ethan (Charan Prabhakar), a total stranger—and a foreigner yet—dressed as "India" Jones. Okay, he transferred to their high school in senior year, but none of them were in the AP/stuck-up, smart kids’ classes where he and Laurie met. Actually, the real capper is that Brad's taking them to the derelict gold mine whose owner and two daughters were entombed alive by his rapacious business partners; local legend has it that the place is haunted by little girl ghosts. Cue the thunderstorm that forces them to take shelter inside the dark, creepy mine.

The cast work their collective butts off, screaming, scrambling, crying, crawling and dodging CGI bats and a very big spider, but the until the story takes an unexpected turn right when it seems to be coming up on the standard-issue last-one-standing finale, they're stuck playing particularly unlikeable versions of the various jocks, brains and scaredy-cats who've been falling prey to serial killers, psychos, monsters and vengeful outcasts for three decades. The Descent (2005) set a very high bar for trapped-underground movies, both in sheer scariness and psychological complexity, and Abandoned Mine really isn't in the same league, though it delivers a handful of creepy moments and the opening-credits montage of old newspaper accounts of the Jarvis family's fate is genuinely disturbing.