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Abigail (18)

Cast: Alisha Weir, Giancarlo Esposito, Dan Stevens, Kathryn Newton, Melissa Barrera, Kevin Durand
Genre: Horror
Director: Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, Tyler Gillett
Release Date: 19/04/2024
Running Time: 109mins
Country: US
Year: 2024

A group of criminals kidnap 12-year-old ballerina Abigail, the daughter of a powerful underground boss who should be willing to pay a 50 million US dollar ransom for his pride and joy. The abductors are blissfully unaware that their pint-sized victim conceals a devilishly dark secret and isn't as helpless as she appears. In fact, she is the hunter and they are the prey.

LondonNet Film Review

Abigail (18) Film Review from LondonNet

>As a child, I was taught by my parents not to play with my food. The title character of directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett’s abduction thriller, who presents as a 12-year-old girl, has been playing with her food for years – centuries, in fact. Indeed, she giggles with delight when her meal of choice – a screaming human – fights back and threatens her with a sharpened stake or clove of garlic before she drains them dry of delicious life force with an impressively tapered set of teeth…

Abigail puts a morbidly humorous spin on vampire mythology peddled by Bram Stoker, Anne Rice, Charlaine Harris and Stephenie Meyer by trapping six strangers inside a Gothic mansion with a tween fanged fiend. Blood flows freely in a playful script co-written by Stephen Shields and Guy Busick, which nods affectionately to horror tropes (characters are reluctant to split up but oblige to facilitate a steady kill rate) in impeccably staged set pieces that reference crucifixes, coffins, sunlight and mirror reflections for jump scares and laughs.

Alisha Weir scored top grades in the title role of Matilda: The Musical and she is monstrously entertaining here as the manipulative bloodsucker, who gleefully practises ballet pirouettes and hums Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake before she exsanguinates terrified prey of glossy crimson liquor. Co-stars are given sufficient screen time to tease out back stories before the first victim loses more than their dignity.

Lambert (Giancarlo Esposito) recruits six strangers to sedate and abduct 12-year-old Abigail (Weir) from her family home and spirit the moppet to a remote location, Wilhelm Manor. They must hold the “tiny dancer” hostage for 24 hours to earn an equal share of a 50 million US dollar ransom. The kidnappers are selected for specific skillsets and to protect their identities, they take codenames corresponding to members of the 1950s Rat Pack: Dean (Angus Cloud), Frank (Dan Stevens), Joey (Melissa Barrera), Peter (Kevin Durand), Rickles (William Catlett) and Sammy (Kathryn Newton). The cash-hungry sextet are blissfully unaware that their cherubic captive is a creature of the night, who will manipulate them to turn on each other or simply rip out their throats.

Abigail is a satisfyingly gory game of cat and mice, reminiscent in its diabolical set up of Bettinelli-Olpin and Gillett’s 2019 film Ready Or Not, which played a ghoulish game of hide and seek with cinema audiences and earned the duo side-by-side directors’ chairs for the most recent instalments of the Scream franchise. Barrera was one of Ghostface’s potential victims and she plays another feisty heroine, risking desiccation and dismemberment to return home safely to a young son. Co-stars sinks their teeth into predominantly likeable yet doomed characters destined for a close encounter with Abigail’s gnashers. Dinner is served.

– Jo Planter

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