Star Rating:


Directors: Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, Tyler Gillett

Actors: Dan Stevens, Kathryn Newton, Giancarlo Esposito, Alisha Weir

Release Date: Friday 19th April 2024

Genre(s): Horror, Thriller

Running time: 109 minutes

Following the successful kidnapping of a young girl (Alisha Weir), a group of criminals (Dan Stevens, Angus Cloud, Kathryn Newton, William Catlett, Kevin Durand) bring her to an abandoned mansion just outside the city, where they're instructed to guard her for 24 hours while they ransom her. However, as the night wears on, the group begin to meet violent deaths, all of which points to the young girl they've kidnapped named Abigail...

From the get-go, 'Abigail' works itself into a corner that makes it next to impossible to get out from. Much like the criminals themselves and their plot, it starts off pretty strong and seems to be working a smart and snappy idea before the thing gets stuck in its own blood and guts and begins to unravel. It's not to say that 'Abigail' doesn't have its moments or that there aren't deft hands at work, but for a movie that has so much going for it, it sometimes feels like it's never quite as good as one would hope for.

Dan Stevens is terrific, looking and sounding like he walked off the set of a live-action 'Grand Theft Auto' adaptation with his dirt-bag morals intact. Melissa Barrera has the hard-edged presence that made her so compelling in the recent 'Scream' entries and serves as something of a moral compass for the rest of the morally bereft cast of characters. Alisha Weir is terrifying and hilarious in equal measure, throwing herself into the role and astutely utilised by directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett for maximum effect. The setting, a broken-down mansion that's loaded with all sorts of horror clichés and trick boxes, works a treat for what's in store. Outside these main three however, it's nowhere as effective. Giancarlo Esposito only turns up for a handful of scenes and never gets a real chance to be his villainous self, leaving him essentially squandered. Meanwhile, the rest of the ensemble - Kathryn Newton, the late Angus Cloud, Kevin Durand, and William Catlett - are all essentially chum in the water, and we spend our time waiting for them to be offed one by one.

On that front, 'Abigail' suffers from pacing issues, not the least of it being this is a movie that could be easily wrapped up with twenty minutes to spare on its 109-minute runtime without half the needless criss-crossing of alliances and backstabbings. The stop-start nature of 'Abigail' means you're never sure if it's trying to build tension, or if it's simply biding its time to the next gleeful explosion of blood and guts. On the latter, 'Abigail' excels and makes for some shocking and - dare we say it - hilarious moments, particularly those with Alisha Weir's character terrorising the cast of characters. Were the movie to simply stick to its guns and commit to being a splattery thrill-ride rather than drawing it out for the sake of atmospherics, 'Abigail' might have been a far better movie.

Though it's burdened by an overly complicated script that's probably gone through far too many rewrites, 'Abigail' works at its best when it's sharpened like a stake and running at full speed. Though it may rely on more horror tropes than an episode of 'Scooby-Doo' and plays them out for far too long, there's enough guts and gore in 'Abigail' to make it a passably enjoyable treat for horror fans.