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Review: Abigail. An awesome, brand-new adventure for horror lovers

  • Release year: 2024
  • Director: Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett.
  • Producers: Paul Neinstein, William Sherak, James Vanderbilt, Chad Villella and Tripp Vinson.
  • Screenplay by: Stephen Shields and Guy Busick.
  • Cinematographer: Aaron Morton.
  • Music by: Brian Tyler.

Synopsis: a little girl is kidnapped by a group of criminals who have no idea what they are dealing with.

Shotgun Commentary: another awesome film by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett. If you liked Ready or Not (2019), chances are you’re gonna enjoy this one too.

Abigail (Alisha Weir). Source: Abigail (Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett, 2024). Courtesy of Universal Pictures.

Review

Abigail is an absolute horror masterpiece. It hits all the stops in a good horror film: sketchy beginning, gruesome first death, shocking plot twist (if you haven’t seen the trailers, that is), foiled survival strategies, and an ending as absorbing as its climax.

Contrast makes perfect

The whole film is one big comparison between beauty and horror, as well as innocence and evil. The contrast and similarities between these terms, the “greys” if you will, are explored thoroughly in the narrative. They add substance to what would otherwise just be another gory horror movie.

The use of a child to portray both predator and prey is not new. Features like The Exorcist (1973), The Omen (1976) or Village of the Damned (1995) come to mind. However, Abigail is more in the lines of Claudia (Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire chronicles, 1994) or Sprite (Eternals, 2021), women who are thousands of years old, but trapped in the body of little girls.

Abigail (Alisha Weir). Source: Abigail (Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett, 2024). Courtesy of Universal Pictures.

This perpetuates the infantilising relationships they have with those around them, strangers and piers. Which often leads to them act up in a desperate attempt to be taken seriously and treated like adults. This situation could be understood as a metaphor for how women are treated in society. Nevertheless, that would require a much more in-depth analysis that digresses too much from the review of Abigail.

Beauty and pain

Abigail is, other than a child, a ballerina. Dancing is her passion and, in her own gruesome, creepy, twisted way, she inserts this passion into everything she does, including her feeding habits. The use of classical music, particularly Tchaikovsky, whose work is so intertwined and associated with ballet, is the perfect choice to create just enough of a contrast between calm and dangerous to give the audience the very unsettling feeling that there is no safe space.

Even when nothing is happening to the characters, danger looms over them, creating no breathing space for viewers to relax. It is a rollercoaster that only presents two modes: terrified and anxious. After about ten minutes of film, the calm before the storm feels too short and far in the past to remember.

Joey (Melissa Barrera) and Abigail (Alisha Weir). Source: Abigail (Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett, 2024). Courtesy of Universal Pictures.

In terms of visuals, the mixture of ballet, all pastel pink, delicate and beautiful, with the bloody, dirty, horror of an unhinged vampire’s feeding space, creates a huge juxtaposition of aesthetics. They merge into a weirdly graceful and well-balanced atmosphere. This space shows the whole range of beauty and transforms its meaning. The lovely is made ghastly; and the horrid, somewhat charming.

Laughing in the face of death

In addition to this incredibly interesting composition of music and visuals, the story itself is hilarious and terrifying. Following the same format as Ready or Not, the preys need to survive for a determined amount of time to “win”. This leads to very dark humour combined with situations that are so wrong they are perfect, making the audience laugh hysterically, whether from horror or humour will be very hard to determine.

Good vs Evil

If you were waiting for the character analysis to find the complaints, I’m afraid you’ll be disappointed for the most part. Alisha Weir delivers a great performance as Abigail, she is not an obnoxious kid, nor an overacted villain. She displays that childlike flair and inability to see when things are taken too far, which only makes her more believable in her role of eternal child.

Abigail (Alisha Weir). Source: Abigail (Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett, 2024). Courtesy of Universal Pictures.

As for Melissa Barrera, who plays Joey, her role is not exactly surprising, as it is not the first time she’s given life to a final girl. She delivers perfectly and surprises you when you with twists when you least expect it, which is wonderful.

The team

William Catlett as Rickles is so cliché and dull that you will have forgotten his existence before you even step a foot out of the cinema. As for the rest of the team, Kevin Durand as Peter and Angus Cloud as Dean are so lovable and hilarious. They are flawed characters whose personality is so sweet that you can’t help but to like them, which is a really great addition to a horror movie.

Closing the ensemble, Kathryn Newton as Sammy and Dan Stevens as Frank, the spoiled rich girl and the leader of the group, are absolutely fantastic, the best characters without a doubt. Newton has a pretty cliché character, the rich girl that wants to be a rebel. However, Sammy’s evolution is a sight to behold, Newton’s acting shines bright in this role, as do her physical abilities.

Sammy (Kathryn Newton), Peter, (Kevin Durand) and Frank (Dan Stevens). Source: Abigail (Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett, 2024). Courtesy of Universal Pictures.

Regardless, Dan Stevens takes the cake with Frank, a corrupt detective whose goals and allegiances are never clear. As a person used to nice Stevens, cute Stevens, mildly crazy Stevens and unknowingly psychotic Stevens, evil scheming Stevens is a brand-new range; and he rocks the hell out of it.

All in all, Abigail will make you laugh as you non-stop grip the edges of your seat and hide behind whoever is closest to you. A great horror experience that will want to relive over and over.

Advice to take from this movie:

  • If you have horrible character judging abilities, don’t be a cop… nor a criminal.
  • Kidnapping children is wrong. Also, they could potentially eat your face. Never underestimate children.
  • If you manage to make a horrible beast pass out, CHOP. ITS. HEAD. OFF. No buts or ifs. CHOP IT!
Joey (Melissa Barrera). Source: Abigail (Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett, 2024). Courtesy of Universal Pictures.

What’s your take? Have you watched Abigail? Did you like it? What’s your favourite film by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett? Don’t hesitate to let me know your thoughts in the comments section below, or leave a message in my contact page! For more reviews and cinema-related articles, check out the rest of my blog! 😀

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