‘Abigail’ Follows a Simple Recipe to Become an Amusingly Obvious Bloodbath

‘Abigail’ Follows a Simple Recipe to Become an Amusingly Obvious Bloodbath
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The new horror film Abigail follows a simple, time-tested recipe that requires a minimal amount of ingredients to become amusingly obvious bloodbath.

Total time: 109 minutes. Take a mysterious child, a discreet security agent and six criminals with logical reasoning difficulties. Place them in an extra large pot with some rats, creaky floorboards, and sinister shadows. Mix. Cook over low heat and continue stirring, bringing the stew to a near boil. After an hour, increase the heat until some of the meat falls off the bone and the entire mixture turns red. And enjoy!

Scene from the film Abgail, with Alisha Weir Photograph: Universal

That reasonably sums up the film, a horror production that is competent enough to make you occasionally chuckle or wince, but is also so unambitious that it doesn’t seem worth complaining about.

The film centers on the kidnapping of the title character (the great Alisha Weir), a 12-year-old ballerina, seemingly her own person captured one night by half a dozen distinct stereotypes. This diverse group of underworld characters (played by Dan Stevens, among others), who look like they stepped out of an episode of Scooby-Doo, have different abilities, stories and expiration dates. And, above all, they have the obligation to fill out an absurdly shallow story and die in a terrible way.

The filmmakers – the film was written by Stephen Shields and Guy Busick, and directed by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett – provided the story with the usual elements. Most of the film takes place in a labyrinthine mansion that looks like it was imagined by an amusement park designer who scanned some old horror films while leafing through picture books on the history of European aristocracy. There’s armor at the front door, a bearskin rug on the floor, an empty coffin hidden in a corner, and, oddly enough given the genre’s circumstances, some fresh garlic in an abandoned kitchen.

There are some interesting bits, including Giancarlo Esposito, who comes in, gives some orders, and soon leaves the kidnappers alone with Abigail in the mansion while they wait for her father to pay the ransom within 24 hours. Once this narrative timer begins, the team members – who also include Melissa Barrera, Kathryn Newton, Will Catlett, an amusing Kevin Durand and Angus Cloud (who died in 2023) – banter and pose, grimace and shout, managing to be slightly attractive and completely disposable. At one point, the filmmakers nod to one of their influences with a scene from Agatha Christie’s 1939 mystery novel, And there were none leftabout a group of enigmatically dead people.

Abigail has been described as a version of Dracula’s Daughter (1936), one of the horror films in Universal’s vault, some of which have been resurrected in some form. The reviews published by the press regarding Abigail mention some vampire titles, but The Daughter is not among them, and for good reason because there is little connection between the two. This is a shame, as the previous film is a real surprise.

It stars Gloria Holden as a countess who feeds on men and women and begs a doctor to help her with her “horrific” condition. With its lesbian overtones, the film is a vexatious and tasty text – the censors asked the studio to avoid suggestions of “perverse sexual desire” – and the countess is a complex villain in a film that is well worth checking out.

The article is in Portuguese

Tags: Abigail Simple Recipe Amusingly Obvious Bloodbath

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