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“Abigail” Delights with Jokes and Gore

Written by: Patrick Howard | April 19th, 2024

Abigail (Matt Bettinelli-Olpin/Tyler Gillett, 2024) 4 out of 5 stars

Directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett, two founding members of the filmmaking collective Radio Silence, bring their unique blend of light-hearted laughs and splattering gore to the unhinged delight of their newest film, Abigail. Bettinelli-Olpin and Gillett (Ready or Not) put us into the perspective of a group of criminals who are looking for the next big score.

That opportunity comes when a man named Lambert (Giancarlo Esposito, Netflix’s Kaleidoscope series) offers each of them a seven-million-dollar payout for kidnapping the daughter of a affluent underworld crime boss and hold her for ransom in an isolated mansion. The job seems easy enough, and so does the money, but these criminals, led by Dan Stevens (I’m Your Man) and Melissa Barrera (In the Heights), quickly realize that the little girl they kidnapped isn’t just a little kid in a ballerina dress.

l-r: Alisha Weir and Kevin Durand in ABIGAIL ©Universal Pictures

Alisha Weir (Matilda: The Musical), as the titular character, gives a marvelous, multi-layered performance. The task put upon her shoulders is not easy. She must come across as an innocent child who could sway even the most hardened criminal and then switch to an unbelievable nightmare within an instant. However, her talents are not only showcased in the strong writing, but in the stunts that are littered all over the mansion set.

Abigail forgoes the attempts of biting satire that we saw in Ready or Not but keeps the similar claustrophobia of an old, creepy mansion and the unexpected lore that admittedly feels uncooked. Everyone involved carries the film’s embedded humor with the right amount of sass. The bickering among the criminals, especially between Stevens and Berrera, as the tension ratchets even tighter, is a true highlight of the film.

l-r: Melissa Barrera and Dan Stevens in ABIGAIL ©Universal Pictures

Patrick Howard has been a cinephile since age seven. Alongside 10 years of experience in film analysis and criticism, he is a staunch supporter of all art forms and believes their influence and legacy over human culture is vital. Mr. Howard takes the time to write his own narrative stories when he can.

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