Reviewer finds tutu-wearing neck-biting kid-vampire flick a bit too-too

April 20, 2024
2 mins read
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Abigail

ASHTON BROWN sits through an ultra-violent film about a murderous child and bizarrely, given his predilections, finds it rather pallid stuff.

Abigail is based loosely on the 1936 film Dracula’s Daughter. In this rendition, six criminals with wafer-thin motives and no emotional depth take a job to kidnap an underworld kingpin’s daughter and hold her in an abandoned old mansion overnight to receive their pay-out. As it turns out, Abigail is a vampire and, in a twist spoiled by trailers, she begins to hunt and kill her hunters in incredibly violent and gruesome ways.

Despite being listed on IMDB as a horror/thriller I think it’s absurd not to add comedy to the genre listing given it spends much of its 109 minutes making a mix of groan-worthy and mildly chuckle-worthy jokes, often at the expense of any real tension.

Co-directors Tyler Gillett and Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, who have previously teamed up to make “black comedy horror” Ready Or Not and 2022’s Scream 4 slasher sequel, Scream (believe it or not) have a track record that certainly proves that they are adequate horror directors, and I think that label is fittingly applied in the case of Abigail. Perhaps it’s just because I like alliteration, but Abigail was adequate; not awful, but also not awesome.

The trope of murderous children is nothing new: in fact as a subgenre it has been done incredibly well – The Exorcist’s Reagan, The Omen’s Damien, the girl from Orphan, and most recently M3gan. By its very nature, murderously rampaging children are entertaining (when they aren’t your own). Chuck em’ in a ballet dress and they are even more entertaining – up to a point. In Abigail, that point is passed well before 109 minutes is up.

Don’t get me wrong, the ultra-violence is impressive; the effects, that is. People exploding, limbs being cut off, necks being bitten. And blood, so much blood. More blood than an elevator in The Overlook Hotel. Blood aside, even in its most entertaining moments I couldn’t help but think of films that had done it better. Creatures covered in blood grinning menacingly at their prey? I’ll watch Evil Dead. A small child dancing while on a murderous rampage? I’ll watch M3gan. A mechanically locked house trapping people inside overnight while being hunted by creatures? Bring on 13 Ghosts. The lack of fresh ideas made Abigail rather unmemorable. Not that it’s a bad film, but because it’s simply adequate.

Abigail herself is played incredibly well by teenager Alisha Weir, in an impressive shift from playing Matilda in the recent musical adaptation. The other characters do well with what they are given, but their motives are so cliched that it’s hard to see them as anything more than cannon fodder. I had a stronger emotional connection with my popcorn than anything that was happening on screen.

There is some fun to be had with Abigail and there is some charm in the fact that it doesn’t take itself too seriously. If ultra-violence, Twilight references (enough already) and characters who chew the scenery as hard as Abigail chews necks are enough to keep you entertained for nearly two hours, then it might be worth a gander. For me, however, the time would have been better spent with my own murderously cute children at home.

 

+ Abigail is screening now in New Zealand cinemas.

 

 




 

 

 

Ashton Brown is Witchdoctor's craft beer writer and film reviewer, and a self-professed geek, horror fanatic and post-rock enthusiast.

Ashton Brown is a freelance reviewer, writer, actor and director. You may have seen him on some ads (he's the big hairy guy) or at the NZ Comedy Festival. He's Witchdoctor's craft beer writer and film reviewer, and a self-professed geek, horror fanatic and post-rock enthusiast.

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