Abigail Is a Gory Good Time

After over 100 years (Nosferatu was released in 1922!), you’d think vampire movies would have run themselves into the ground. (Or the coffin.) This long-running subgenre has given us traditional Dracula-esque stories, radical reimaginings a la Martin and Let’s Scare Jessica to Death, and even superhero flicks like Blade and Morbius, so filmmakers can’t possibly do anything new with these creatures…right? Wrong. Never underestimate the creativity of talented writers and directors. They’ll always find a way to put new spins on time-honored tropes, and for proof, all you have to do is watch Abigail, the latest bloodsucking romp to hit theaters.

Abigail is directed by Radio Silence members Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett, and stars Alisha Weir, Melissa Barrera, Dan Stevens, Kathryn Newton, Will Catlett, Kevin Durand, Angus Cloud, and Giancarlo Esposito. In the film, a criminal who goes by the name of Lambert hires six strangers to kidnap a young girl named Abigail and watch over her while he demands a ransom from the girl’s father, but soon enough, they realize that Abigail isn’t your run-of-the-mill little kid. She’s actually a vampire, and she likes to play with her food before eating it.

As you might be able to guess from that plot synopsis, Abigail faces an uphill battle right from the get-go. See, horror is exponentially more effective when you care about the characters, but this movie focuses on a group of child kidnappers. They’re not exactly an easy demographic to root for, which could potentially be a disastrous narrative choice.

Thankfully, the film finds a way around that problem. In fact, it finds two ways around the issue. For starters, all of these characters feel like real, distinct individuals, and they all have their unique place on the team. To take just a few examples, there’s the dimwitted muscle, the straight-faced leader, and the ditzy tech expert. These individual personalities and roles make this entire ensemble an absolute blast to watch even when there’s nothing particularly scary happening on screen.

A man talking

Secondly, one of these kidnappers, a woman who goes by the alias Joey, provides Abigail with a much-needed emotional foundation. At first, she doesn’t know she’s been hired to kidnap a kid, and when she finds out, she almost walks out on the operation. She even temporarily tries to stop the whole thing from happening at all, and although she eventually goes through with it, that glimmer of humanity makes her way more sympathetic than child kidnappers have any right to be.

On top of that, she also has a child of her own, and that ups the ante even more. Not only do you want her to survive so she can go back to her son, but her love for her kid also compels her to treat Abigail way more kindly than anybody else on the team. That motherly concern will win you over immediately, and since she cares about the other characters, you can’t help but care about them and their well-being too.

When things start to go south for these kidnappers, the action and suspense will have you on the edge of your seat. Granted, Abigail isn’t exactly scary, but your concern for the characters will more than make up for your lack of fear of the vampire girl. Directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett do a fantastic job of exploiting that sympathy to the fullest.

Not only do they craft some excellently tense moments and a boatload of super fun action, they also give us one of the best new vampires I’ve seen in years. The titular monster is played by Alisha Weir, and she’s hands down the star of the show. As most longtime film fans know, child actors are notoriously hit or miss, but this girl is fantastic from start to finish.

People walking into a house

Sometimes she has to be a terrified little kid, other times she’s a deadly force of nature, and still other times she’s a psychotic killer who gets a bit too much enjoyment out of tormenting her victims. Whatever the movie needs her to do, she completely nails it every single time. Seriously, this is one of the best child performances I’ve seen in a long time, and I can’t wait to see where Weir’s career goes from here.

When Abigail goes on the attack, the directors don’t hold back on the blood and gore. We see heads roll, limbs get blown off, and blood splatter in ways that give the Evil Dead franchise a run for its money. I especially got a kick out of the unique way sunlight affects this vampire. I don’t want to spoil the fun surprise, but suffice it to say that it’s way more gruesome than you’d expect.

Last but not least, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that Abigail also features a bunch of genuinely laugh-out-loud humor. Granted, there aren’t enough jokes to make this a legit horror comedy, but there are enough to make the humor one of the film’s strengths. Most notably, two of the characters are, shall we say, a bit less intellectually inclined than most average adults, and their idiotic antics will have you in stitches again and again.

If you’re looking for some good new horror to watch, I highly recommend giving Abigail a watch. Sure, this movie isn’t exactly brimming with meaning, but if you just want to have a great time at the theater, it more than delivers. The film features excellent characters, super fun horror (including a fantastic new vampire icon), and hilarious comedy. It’s almost guaranteed to put a smile on the face of every genre fan who checks it out.

Abigail is playing in theaters right now.

Written by JP Nunez

JP Nunez is a lifelong movie fan, and his favorite genres are horror, superheroes, and giant monsters.

Leave a Reply

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

Two young women covered in blood

Love Will Tear Us Apart Is a Slasher Love Story Like No Other

An animated broken mirror reveals multiple faces

Salem Horror Fest Takes Over Witch City Next Week