top of page
  • Nate Adams

'Abigail' review: Bloody vampire flick packs plenty of bite


Courtesy of Universal

 

A blood soaked, anarchic vampire flick that’s loaded with plenty of tongue and cheekiness, “Abigail” delivers enough gore-fueled mayhem to fill the nile. Taking a page from their own “Ready or Not” playbook, Radio Silence directing duo Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett have made another isolated thriller where they strategically bury the lede. For the directors, it’s also a welcome return to original fare following stints in the “Scream” universe where they successfully brought Ghostface back into the zeitgeist. And despite their “Abigail” sometimes biting off more than it can chew (especially in the final act where we’re given, what feels like, sixteen different endings), few movies nowadays are having this much fun picking apart genre troupes and harboring innovative ways of drowning people in gallons of blood. 


“Abigail” is equal parts heist movie and vampire flick thrown into one. It begins with a group of kidnappers snatching up 12-year-old ballerina Abigail (Alisha Weir - terrific), who is the daughter of someone very important, and holding her for ransom in the hopes of fetching a massive $50 million dollar payday. The gig is, on the surface, an easy one. The crew, which consists of ex-cop Frank (Dan Stevens), recovering addict/medic Joey (Melissa Barrera), muscular henchmen Peter (Kevin Durand), hipster hacker Sammy (Kathryn Newton), getaway driver Dean (the late Angus Cloud), and military sniper Rickles (William Carlett), are tasked with what is essentially a 24 hour babysitting gig. Keep an eye on the girl, make sure nothing happens, and walk out the door with cash in hand. 


Sounds easy enough until it becomes very evident that Abigail is not your average ballerina, nor is she a quant, little girl who is afraid of some kidnappers looking to score a quick buck. Locked inside a mansion with literally nowhere to go, the screenplay takes its time setting up traps and laying down the group dynamics and personalities before all hell breaks loose. Radio Silence has dutifully assembled enough depth in the cast so that we actually care about the squad, and when it’s revealed that Abigail is really a vampire on the prowl for blood and games, it makes us invested a little more in who might see daylight by the closing credits. 


We have the most rooting interest in Barrera who is an absolute stunner as the antiheroine trying to make it back home to her kid while Stevens is having the time of his life playing the shady ringleader whom we can never trust. Cloud, in one of his final roles after tragically passing away last year and of whom the film is dedicated, radiates pure vibes as the stoner bro just trying to fit in, and Weir gives Abigail her teeth. Literally. The young actress, probably best known for playing Matilda in the Netflix musical, is quite sturdy playing the titular character who pirouettes around the characters with a sadistic glee and holds her own opposite a cast of veterans, including the hulking Durand. She is an actress to keep our eyes on. 


Did I mention the movie was packed with blood? Even as the film gives way for about sixteen endings and a not so subtle (and completely unnecessary) reveal, the Radio Silence crew never lose sight of what audiences expect from one of their films and gorehounds will be delighted. It wasn’t destined to rewrite the vampire playbook, but it allows Bettinelli-Olpin and Gillet the freedom to explore new avenues unrestricted from lofty franchise expectations. Their “Scream” movies were solid, but it forced them to find a balance that was both their own and appealed to fans. With “Abigail” they can throw whatever they want at the wall and see what lands. Fortunately for them, lots of blood ended up sticking. 


Grade: B 


ABIGAIL is now playing in theaters.



Comments


Subscribe here to have every review sent directly to your inbox!

NEVER MISS A REVIEW!

Be the first to know!

Thanks for subscribing to TheOnlyCritic.com!

bottom of page