Spread the love


A cheerfully obvious splatterthon, the new horror movie “Abigail” follows a simple, time-tested recipe that calls for a minimal amount of ingredients. Total time: 109 minutes. Take a mysterious child, one suave fixer and six logic-challenged criminals. Place them in an extra-large pot with a few rats, creaking floorboards and ominous shadows. Stir. Simmer and continue stirring, letting the stew come to a near-boil. After an hour, crank the heat until some of the meat falls off the bone and the whole mix turns deep red. Enjoy!

That more or less sums up this movie, a horror flick that’s serviceable enough to make you occasionally giggle or flinch, yet is also so aggressively unambitious that it scarcely seems worth griping about. It centers on the kidnapping of the title character (a fine Alisha Weir), an outwardly self-possessed 12-year-old ballerina who’s snatched one night by a half-dozen genre types. A formulaically diverse cohort of underworld bottom feeders (played by Dan Stevens, among others), these Scooby-Doo-ish chuckleheads come with divergent skills, histories and expiration dates, and are largely tasked with padding the reed-thin story and dying horribly.

The filmmakers — it was written by Stephen Shields and Guy Busick, and directed by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett — have outfitted the story with the usual particulars. Much of the movie unfolds inside a sprawling labyrinthine mansion that looks like it was imagineered by an amusement park designer who scanned some old horror movies while thumbing through picture books on the history of the European aristocracy. There are suits of armor flanking the front door, a bearskin rug on the floor, an empty coffin tucked in a corner and oddly, given the genre circumstances, some fresh garlic in an otherwise derelict kitchen.

There are some tangy bits, including Giancarlo Esposito, who enters, barks some orders and soon leaves the kidnappers alone with Abigail in the mansion while they wait for her father to pay a ransom within 24 hours. Once this narrative stopwatch begins, the crew members — who also include Melissa Barrera, Kathryn Newton, Will Catlett, an amusing Kevin Durand and Angus Cloud (who died in 2023) — banter and pose, grimace and scream while managing to be lightly appealing and entirely disposable. At one point, the filmmakers nod at one of their influences with a shot of Agatha Christie’s 1939 mystery novel “And Then There Were None,” about a group of people who are enigmatically offed.

“Abigail” has been described as a take on “Dracula’s Daughter” (1936), one of the horror films in Universal’s vault, some of which it has resurrected in some fashion. The press notes for “Abigail” name-check a few vampire titles, but “Daughter” isn’t among them, and for good reason because there’s little to link these two. That’s too bad; the earlier film is a true curiosity. It stars Gloria Holden as a countess who preys on men and women alike, and begs a doctor to help her with her “ghastly” condition. With its lesbian overtones, the movie is a vexed and tasty text — censors urged the studio to avoid suggestions of “perverse sexual desire” — and the countess a complex villain in a film that is very much worth a look.

Abigail
Rated R for gore and more gore. Running time: 1 hour 49 minutes. In theaters.



Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *