Alisha Weir as Abigail in 'Abigail,' directed by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett.

Alisha Weir as Abigail in 'Abigail,' directed by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett. Photo: Universal Pictures.

In theaters on Friday, April 19th, ‘Abigail’ finds Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett, directors of ‘Ready or Not’ and the two most recent ‘Scream’ movies.

Here, freed from the constrictions of working within a franchise framework, they get back to their roots for a funny, bloody tale of kidnappers who target the wrong person with violent results.

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Does ‘Abigail’ Draw Entertaining Blood?

Directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett's 'Abigail'.

Directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett's 'Abigail'. Photo: Universal Pictures.

Are you a hemophobe? In that case, you should probably avoid ‘Abigail’, since it features more blood on screen than the original ‘Carrie’. There are buckets of the red stuff, whether from someone vomiting it up, a pit of bodies floating in it, or… well, the last one would be a spoiler.

Truth be told, though, we doubt anyone with that condition would be happily sitting down for a horror movie anyway, since they usually tend to include plenty of blood. And there is much more to recommend ‘Abigail’ beyond all of that, plenty of positives rather than just the B-positive.

Because this latest offering from the Radio Silence team is a funny, violent, crazy and occasionally audacious terror offering.

Script and Direction

Directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett's 'Abigail'.

Directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett's 'Abigail'. Photo: Universal Pictures.

While the script originated with Stephen Shields, who came up with the basic concept and many of the fun ideas littering the story, it has since been through the hands of regular Radio Silence scriptwriter Guy Busick, who has worked with the directors on movies such as ‘Ready or Not’ and the two ‘Scream’ entries they made.

It’s the latter to which ‘Abigail’ feels more closely aligned –– like that thriller, which sees a young woman marrying into a wealthy family who discovers that new additions are challenged to a lethal game that finds her running for her life through a creepy mansion with the armed, privileged spawn tracking her down.

Here, the focus is on a group of criminals who kidnap a young girl, looking to squeeze her rich father for a ransom, only to discover that she is most definitely not what she appears. It’s given away in all the marketing and the trailer, so we’re really not spoiling anything here: she’s a vampire, and the criminals have all been lured to the creepy mansion she shares with her father to serve as her latest playthings/snack food.

Dan Stevens, director Tyler Gillett, Melissa Barrera and director Matt Bettinelli-Olpin on the set of 'Abigail.'

(From left) Dan Stevens, director Tyler Gillett, Melissa Barrera and director Matt Bettinelli-Olpin on the set of 'Abigail.' Photo: Universal Pictures.

The script is light on its feet, completely understanding that this is a fun, pulpy B-movie with the scares and the laughs perfectly calibrated. The criminal crew, all brought to life by an engaging gang of accomplished actors (more on them below), bicker and spar amusingly, and when they started to be picked off one by one, you’re actually engaged in their fate (even if you’re happy for most of them to meet a bloody end).

On the directing front, Bettinelli-Olpin and Gillett know exactly how to pull of something like this –– ‘Ready or Not’ certainly proved it. They pitch the tone perfectly, dialing up the madness when needed and slowing things down to let the movie breathe. There are moments when it starts to lull, and those are issues (such as one or two moments where the survival of one of the characters stretches credulity), but those are few and far between.

‘Abigail’: Performances

Directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett's 'Abigail'.

Directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett's 'Abigail'. Photo: Universal Pictures.

The Radio Silence team has a knack for casting, and ‘Abigail’ is no exception.

First off, we have the title character herself. Alisha Weir is best known (so far –– this young actor surely has a bright future ahead) as the main character in ‘Roald Dahl's Matilda the Musical’, but here she throws herself into the unhinged, creepy character of an ancient, undead creature who just happens to look like an innocent young girl. She’s a delight, able to pivot on a whim between seeming scared and cunningly tracking down her prey.

It doesn’t hurt that Abigail loves to dance, channeling Weir’s own dance training for funny/scary sequences where she’s on the hunt for a victim. There are shades of M3GAN’s dance stylings here.

Melissa Barrera, one of the stars of the most recent two ‘Scream’ movies, is similarly superb as “Joey” (the criminal crew adopts the names of the Sinatra Rat Pack so as not to learn each other’s real monikers in case they are nabbed by the authorities, which turns out to be the least of their worries). She’s the heart of the film, and the emotional core you actually want to have survive.

As for the rest? They’re different levels of cannon (or vampire) fodder, though all are well developed and well played.

Directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett's 'Abigail'.

Directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett's 'Abigail'. Photo: Universal Pictures.

Dan Stevens (Frank) gives off great grubby charm as a former cop who has turned to crime, all sarcastic asides and impatient attitude. Stevens is always watchable whether he’s being an absolute asshole or running for his life.

Kathryn Newton, as Sammy, is all kooky former-rich-girl-turned-hacker bubbliness, which soon turns to terror (and then something else). She really delivers on all those levels.

Kevin Durand is the hulking, less-than-smart Peter, who is the brawn of the group. He works perfectly in the role, the ideal balance of tough and vulnerable.

William Catlett is studied intensity as the former military man who is given the name “Rickles” (there’s a reason for that we won’t spoil) and doesn’t trust the others. Catlett brings energy and verve to the role even given the character’s gruff demeanor.

Finally, we have ‘Euphoria’s Angus Cloud as Dean, the actor (who died after filming the movie, and is memorialized in the end credits) making his slacker character his own, even if it’s a smaller role.

'Abigail’: Final Thoughts

Directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett's 'Abigail'.

Directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett's 'Abigail'. Photo: Universal Pictures.

‘Abigail’ is a finely-tuned horror comedy that manages to do both well. The bickering team dynamic works and the vampire element is fantastic.

And, as we mentioned before, it’s a bloody good time at the movies.

‘Abigail’ receives 8 out of 10 stars.

Abigail

"Children can be such monsters."
69
R1 hr 49 minApr 6th, 2024
Showtimes & Tickets

What’s the story of ‘Abigail’?

After a group of would-be criminals kidnap the 12-year-old ballerina daughter of a powerful underworld figure, all they have to do to collect a $50 million ransom is watch the girl overnight.

In an isolated mansion, the captors start to dwindle, one by one, and they discover, to their mounting horror, that they’re locked inside with no normal little girl.

Who is in ‘Abigail’?

  • Melissa Barrera as Joey
  • Dan Stevens as Frank
  • Kathryn Newton as Sammy
  • William Catlett as Rickles
  • Kevin Durand as Peter
  • Angus Cloud as Dean
  • Alisha Weir as Abigail

Directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett's 'Abigail'.

Directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett's 'Abigail'. Photo: Universal Pictures.

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