Abigail Review: Explosive Horror That’s Buckets of Fun

Movies
abigail-review:-explosive-horror-that’s-buckets-of-fun

Elevated horror can be wonderful. Packed with subtext, visually stunning, often emotionally devastating with standout performances across the board, the subgenre is full of greats. But sometimes you just want exploding bodies.

If this is you, with Abigail you have come to the right place. From directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett who are part of the collective called Radio Silence, this is a genre mashup which begins with an Oceans 11-style set up where the loot is a little girl our gang of professional criminals will be holding for ransom. But when they get to the vast mansion where she is to spend the night, something is very off, and things head into Dusk Til Dawn territory. This lot have very definitely come to the wrong place. 

Radio Silence have been occupied with the last two Scream movies of late, but Abigail is much closer in tone to 2019s Ready or Not. That movie was a lot of fun, and this one is even better, with a pleasingly twisty plot, ramping up the shocks and gore and providing plenty of laughs from its excellent ensemble cast. Plus there’s the absolute revelation that is little Abigail herself…

Hired by the mysterious Lambert (Giancarlo Esposito), our gang of rouges are led by Dan Stevens’ “Frank” (the group are named after members of the Rat Pack so they don’t know each other’s personal details). Joining him are Melissa Barrera’s “Joey”, in the game to support her son, Kathryn Newton’s tech whiz “Sammy”, Kevin Durrand’s muscle man “Peter”, William Catlett’s surveillance guy “Rickles” and Angus Cloud, in his final role, as driver “Dean” – the film is dedicated to Cloud who sadly passed in 2023.

Promised an insane amount of money by Lambert, the gang hole up in the enormous estate where they are holding Abigail hostage, and watch for intruders. But exactly who has captured who is not as it seems.

Like Ready or Not, Abigail is set almost entirely in a single location and what a location that is! A labyrinthine multi-story property full of hidden doors, gloomy basements and so many rooms and corridors it’s easy to get lost, it’s a great set up. The gang are stuck there for the night. But what they are stuck with exactly doesn’t become clear until the start of the second act. 

The ace up Abigail’s sleeve is Abigail. Played by Alisha Weir, who starred in the film adaptation of Matilda: The Musical, she’s an absolute revelation. Abigail is a ballerina, she’s the adorable daughter of a very rich man, and she’s also a vampire. Yes, Abigail leans hard into genre and it’s the best vampire movie we’ve seen in ages. Adopting some bits of vampire lore, while rejecting others, Abigail keeps the audience, and the human characters, guessing, allowing for some wonderful, scary and sometimes absolutely disgusting set pieces. Kathryn Newton in particular is put through the ringer (if Ready or Not is anything to go by Radio Silence do like to gunge up their female characters), though she also gets a standout scene involving a dance which is going to become the next TikTok trend sitting alongside those from M3GAN and Wednesday.

Making Abigail a ballerina was a genius move, allowing Weir to explore her vampire physicality in ways that are beautiful and creepy at the same time. While the film wears its references on its sleeve – and there are several – it stays fresh throughout.

Stevens in particular looks like he’s having an absolute blast – with this, Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire and Cuckoo on its way, he’s having a top year. Scream and Scream VI star Barrera makes a game horror heroine too, though the movie could do without some of the moral and pseudo-emotional beats that Joey, particularly, juggles. We appreciate this is a genre mashup but parenting melodrama doesn’t need to be in the mix. Still that’s a tiny niggle for an otherwise excellent film.

Radio Silence have proven themselves as one of the most exciting, and crucially, fun, voices in the horror genre and Abigail takes this to the next level. It’s creepy and gross but not too disturbing for horror-skeptics while it should make gorehounds’ hearts sing.

Abigail opens in cinemas on April 19.

The post Abigail Review: Explosive Horror That’s Buckets of Fun appeared first on Den of Geek.

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