New Horror Releases: Abattoir (2016) – Reviewed

For fans of the Saw series, the name Darren Lynn Bousman elicits a response of anticipation when the director has a new horror film being released. Unfortunately, any excitement for the new release Abattoir should be tempered. The nice production values and skilled camerawork cannot save this motion picture, which ends up being a poor attempt at combining various elements of Saw, Seven, The Wicker Man, and The Ring into an occult movie.

The story involves a real estate journalist (Jessica Lowndes) and her cop boyfriend (Joe Anderson) who investigates her family’s murder, including a mysterious man (Dayton Callie) that is purchasing homes that had gruesome events occur in them. The screenplay feels weak, with poor pacing and confusing situations that make things feel like they are running at a snail’s pace. There is some major uncertainty on what era this story is supposed to be taking place in, without providing any explanations for unusual behavior and outdated props. The beginning dialogue and looks of the characters play like a post-war film noir, with old cars and clothes. Yet they are obviously in a current setting as they have cell phones and other current devices and locations. Another issue is that many facets of this are obviously borrowed and replicated from the pictures listed above, which will be discussed further with regards to the main actors.

The acting is pretty average and it looks like the two main actors were selected because of their looks as opposed to their overall acting skills. Lowndes just didn’t bring the needed punch that was necessary for the character. Only more towards the end did she provide some decent emotion. It seemed that she was simply chosen because of her looks. Anderson was run of the mill as well and appeared to be attempting an impersonation of Brad Pitt’s cop character from Seven, which included the same outfit, mannerisms, and vocalization. There were even several scenes between the two that felt like they were completely lifted from Seven or a combination of Seven and The Ring. Callie’s religious zealot bad guy was obviously modeled after Tobin Bell’s Jigsaw character from Saw. His performance is respectable, but if you close your eyes and just listened to his voice you would think that you were hearing something from Saw. Lin Shaye (Insidious) is probably the saving grace and provides a nice performance in her brief on screen time.

The production values are excellent and Bousman shows that he is a skilled director, offering up interesting camera angles and movement, nice overhead and hallway shots, and a toned down color palette. The only issue is that many viewers may find that his camera tricks and style have been played out, much in the same way that Michael Bay is. There are many scenes involving gruesome murders, but they are not graphic enough to satiate gore fans. The ghost sequences are reminiscent of a slightly scarier version of the ghosts from Disney’s The Haunted Mansion.
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Even though I would not recommend this, viewers that enjoyed other recent ghost and occult movies such as Ouija: Origin of Evil may end up enjoying this one.

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