Abigail: She Likes to Play with her Food

By Catherine Erskine

When I went in to see Abigail, I was worried. So many films have tried the horror/thriller with a twist of comedy route and flopped. But Abigail hits the nail on the head. (Or, should I say, the stake through the heart.) 

Written by Stephen Sheild and Guy Buscik, Abigail is a reimagining of the 1936 Universal Film, Dracula’s Daughter. Here, a group of criminals kidnap the daughter of a powerful underworld figure (unknown to them at the time) after her ballet practice and retreat to an isolated mansion, thinking the hard part is over. All they have to do now is hang out and babysit until the target coughs up $50 million as ransom. They don’t know anything about the girl, who she belongs to or each other, and they are fine for it to stay that way.

(from left) Joey (Melissa Barrera) and Abigail (Alisha Weir) in Abigail, directed by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin & Tyler Gillett.

Abigail looks like she will be an easy kid to watch. She’s scared but calmed by connecting with Joey (Melissa Barrera), who is tasked at taking care of her and who has a soft spot for her due to having a son her age.

But, as we know, all innocent-looking, ballerina kids are not the same.

One by one, we get to know the kidnappers and, as such, one by one they are taken out in this creepy mansion (and in gory detail). They are quick to discover that something is going on (though, one of them being beheaded may be a huge clue) and they begin to turn on each other. When they go to check on Abigail, she shows her true, terrifying colours. But, by then, it is too late to escape. The mansion locks down like a fortress and they have to band together to try and survive the wrath of Abigail. 

(from left) Abigail (Alisha Weir) and Sammy (Kathryn Newton) in Abigail, directed by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin & Tyler Gillett.

Abigail is played by Alisha Weir, and she is fantastic. Weir is excellent in her role, outshining all her adult castmates. I did not think a vampire in a ballerina costume would be anything to write home about but Alisha is the total package. She is Dracula’s daughter and she has been around for a very long time. And these criminals are no match for her. (I had to know more about her after watching and was happily surprised to learn she was Matilda in: Matilda the Musical. Talk about range.)

As they soon find out, they did not kidnap her. She has kidnapped them… and has been doing this for years. Her father has tired of her and she lures his enemies to this place and kills them, in order to hopefully gain back his attention. I mean, a kid who just wants to spend more time with her dad? Understandable. 

(from left) Joey (Melissa Barrera) and Frank (Dan Stevens) in Abigail, directed by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin & Tyler Gillett.

This film has the jump scares and suspenseful moments that everyone loves and yet keeps you laughing, (or even cheering) at the copious amount of blood that’s produced from the killing.  I am cautious to say, but, in some ways, the film gave me a Cabin in the Woods vibe. In both cases, the filmmakers clearly knew that some deaths were overkill and ridiculous but they went all in on them for the laugh. (To give you an idea, when leaving the theatre, I heard someone behind me laugh and say “I bet half their budget was on blood”. So, yeah.)

But, there’s no question. If you are looking for a movie that is creepy, suspenseful and funny in the right way, Abigail is worth the watch. 

Abigail is in theatres on Friday, April 19th, 2024.

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