Cinematic Releases: Abigail (2024) - Reviewed

Image courtesy of Universal Pictures 

Watching the powerful, towering frame of Kevin Durand dive tackle a 12 year-old girl is simply priceless, no matter where your moral compass swings. It is but one of the highly entertaining scenes in Abigail, a comedy horror branding an obsession with gore so potent that it would practically make Japanese guro enthusiasts salivate.
Abigail is a pre-teen ballerina, the daughter of an insanely wealthy underworld boss. She is kidnapped by a selected group of experts, all chasing a more than lucrative reward of $7 million each. All they have to do is take her to a secluded location - a fine old Victorian mansion to boot - and watch her for the night until the client collects her in the morning. Easy, right? Dare I say child’s play?
From the directors of the inimitably fun gorefest Ready or Not (Matt Bettinelli and Olpin Tyler B Gillett), Abigail is a nonstop romp of hilarity, terror and over-the-top scenes that oddly makes sense, considering the gang of kidnappers are not exactly prepared for such a uniquely bred young girl. 
Starring as the captors, we have a tidy ensemble of actors like Kevin Durand (The EchoWild Hogs and The Strain), Melissa Barrera (Scream and Scream IV), Dan Stevens (Godzilla xKong: The New Empire), William Catlett (The Devil You Knowand Lovecraft Country), Kathryn Newton (Freaky and Blockers) and the late Angus Cloud (Euphoria and Your Lucky Day)Throw in Breaking Bad’s Giancarlo Esposito as their handler and you have a steel mallet in a microwave!
Alisha Weir (Don’t Leave Home and Darklands) stars as the adorable victim Abigail, a vulnerable little rich girl with an unreasonably absent father. She is obsessed with ballet and winning her father’s favor, the latter of which she remains bereft of . Her performance runs the gamut, starting believably as the unfortunate subject of the crime that evokes empathy, but gradually revealing her growing spite-might until ultimately raising hell like a boss.
Written by Stephen Shields (The Hole in the Ground) and Guy Busick (Scream and Scream VI), Abigail creates a bizarre hybrid of horror themes and witty taunts, mixing it all up in a barrel of blood and guts, decapitations and screaming chases throughout the mansion. The film does not take itself seriously and makes it clear that it is merely hosting a slaughterhouse of fun where the audience gets to guess the next victim. Think in the vein of The Babysitter (2017).
Abigail is fast-paced and feels like a crime thriller at first, introducing us to the squad of snatchers and the elite world of young Abigail alike. Once in the mansion for the night, the dialogue and exposition enlightens us to their respective backgrounds and intentions for participating in such a heinous crime. 
It does not take long to get down to business and once the blood starts painting the walls, the irrefutable quality of the effects department shines. The gore is deliberately overwhelming, the stunts are on point and the constant humor reminiscent of Ready or Not keeps up the tongue-in-cheek horror. Wonderfully void of modern subtext and social messages, the twisted theater of Abigail is a very entertaining feast of fouettés and fangs! As we all know, children can be such monsters.

—Tasha Danzig