Abigail (2024) poster

Abigail (2024)


USA. 2024.


Directors – Matt Bettinelli-Olpin & Tyler Gillett, Screenplay – Guy Busick & Stephen Shields, Producers – Paul Neinstein, William Sherak, James Vanderbilt, Chad Villella & Tripp Vinson, Photography – Aaron Morton, Music – Brian Tyler, Visual Effects Supervisor – Andre Bustanoby, Visual Effects – Crafty Apes (Supervisor – Marc Smith), Nexodus (Supervisor – Ryan Urban) & ReDefine, Special Effects Supervisor – Paul Byrne, Production Design – Susie Cullen. Production Company – Project X Entertainment/Vinson Films/Radio Silence.


Melissa Barrera (Joey/Ana Lucia Cruz), Dan Stevens (Frank/Adam Barrett), Alisha Weir (Abigail), Kevin Durand (Peter/ Terrence Lacroix), Kathryn Newton (Sammy/ Jessica Hurney), Will Catlett (Rickles), Angus Cloud (Dean), Giancarlo Esposito (Lambert), Matthew Goode (Father)


A group of criminals each with their own expertise have been brought together for a mission to abduct the twelve year-old Abigail. She is snatched and taken to an abandoned mansion where they are given orders to nursemaid her for 24 hours until the $50 million ransom can be paid by her father. Joey is given orders that she be the only one to deal with Abigail. Joey is alarmed when Abigail hints that her father is crime kingpin Christoph Lazar. As the others become fearful because of Lazar’s reputation for ruthlessness, they make the discovery that Abigail is something else – a vampire.

The directing duo of Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett first appeared as two of the four-person team that make up the collective Radio Silence (along with Justin Martinez and Chad Villella) who directed 10/31/98, one of the better episodes of the Found Footage anthology V/H/S (2012). Bettinelli-Olpin and Gillett branched on their own to make the Found Footage diabolical pregnancy film Devil’s Due (2014), episodes of the anthology Southbound (2015) and then had a reasonable hit with Ready or Not (2019). The work that caused their name to rise considerably was the reboot of Scream (2022) and its sequel Scream VI (2023).

Abigail is essentially a variant on From Dusk Till Dawn (1996). From Dusk started out as a getaway thriller with a group of escaped criminals and their hostages heading over the Mexican border and taking refuge at a bar; this starts out as a kidnap thriller with a group of criminals abducting a little girl and taking refuge in an abandoned mansion. Both films go some way along with a standard crime plot before a twist that reveals the protagonists are dealing with Vampires (and then that they are trapped and being hunted by them). Abigail offers other twists on the mix and doesn’t quite go in the same directions as From Dusk, nevertheless there are many similarities and overlaps.

That said, Abigail does give away this main twist even in its publicity. And there is undeniably some amusement to the scenes with the gang of screw-up criminals trying to make sense of a vampire in their midst and to work out to what extent she adheres to vampire lore or not. Certainly, the set-up and its various twists require a lot of stretching of basic plausibility to get there.

Angus Cloud, Kathryn Newton, Kevin Durand, Melissa Barrera, Will Catlett and Dan Stevens arrive at the mansion in Abigail (2024)
The criminals arrive at the mansion – (l to r) Angus Cloud, Kathryn Newton, Kevin Durand, Melissa Barrera and Will Catlett, with Dan Stevens (rear)
Vampire ballerina - Alisha Weir as Abigail (2024)
Vampire ballerina – Alisha Weir as Abigail

On the other hand, Abigail sits just between the interesting and the ridiculously over-the-top. Bettinelli-Olpin and Gillett seem to place few limits on how silly they are willing to allow things to get. We get images of Alisha Weir’s Abigail doing ballet pirouettes or dancing along a balcony handrail as she comes after victims. There is one attack scene where the group are fighting Alisha off as she is trying to fly backwards up into the air. By the point that Dan Stevens gets turned into a vampire too, he becomes positively campy. Although probably the most ridiculous scene is where Kathryn Newton is turned into a puppet dancing the same ballet moves that Alisha Weir is. The latter scenes where it comes to various parties fighting to the death really go for broke in terms of drenching people in gore and splatter and have some amusement.

It often feels as though Abigail could be taking place in the same big old mansion as Ready or Not, albeit with the house here being in more of an abandoned state – Bettinelli-Olpin and Gillett seems to have a liking for people being pursued around these big old stately mansions. (This becomes one of the credibility stretching things the film asks of us – that kidnappers would just find such a house abandoned and take it over as a safe house while the deal is conducted, although the mid-film revelation about what is really going on sort of justifies this).

The film is well cast – including Dan Stevens almost unrecognisable behind a pair of glasses and two days of stubble. Kathryn Newton is a rising name and gets to play a mildly bad girl at opposite remove to the Girl Next Door roles she has become familiar in. Angus Cloud as the Dean character is played as such a clueless idiot tweaker that it is hard to believe that anybody would employ him in a sophisticated multi-million kidnap operation.

The film should not to be confused with Abigail (2019), a Russian-made film set in an alternate reality world where Steampunk and magic co-exist.

Trailer here

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