Film review: Abigail

A group of six criminals capture the 12-year-old daughter of a sinister New York City mob boss, only to fight for their lives as they discover that she isn’t what she seems to be.

Directed by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett and written by Guy Busick of more recent and bloodthirsty Scream & Scream VI, ‘Abigail’ is an updated take on a film almost a century old of ‘Dracula’s Daughter’ which was originally released in 1936 as a sequel to the well-known black and white film ‘Dracula’.

Starring – aged just 14 at the time of filming – Alisha Weir (Matilda) as our title character Abigail, and with a more mature acting style beyond her years, the film is set in modern times yet has the brilliantly familiar setting and feel of something far older. Also starring Melissa Barrera as Joey – of recent Scream fame, she is our protagonist’s point of view and actual centre piece for the film’s storyline. As part of a six-team group of bandits desperate for their cut of the $50m ransom they must kidnap the 12-year-old girl and hold her in a secluded mansion for just 24 hours until the money comes through. Simple?… No.

With the clever introduction of the six kidnappers in the pool room whilst drinking the absent owners free bar, the main cast of character’s background is dealt with well in just one scene through the perception of ex drug addict Joey. Also starring Dan Stevens as Frank, the lead, whose take on the American accent takes him away from his known British ‘Downton Abbey’ role. And, with Kevin Durand as Peter, the muscle and the late Angus Cloud as Dean, the wheel man, who sadly died shortly after the filming which is recognised before the film end credits. What does stand out against Alisha Weir’s role is Kathryn Newton as Sammy, the hacker, not necessarily for the acting but for the more than a striking resemblance to Miley Cyrus through makeup in the mid-section of the film. With Giancarlo Esposito (Breaking Bad) as Lambert, the stellar cast is mostly complete.


Filming was mostly shot at the grand Glenmaroon House in Dublin, for its gothic structure and atmosphere. Purposefully using the house internals and externals as a single and enclosed location other than the cellar and the final room, which was shot in a separate studio, it was brilliantly designed to create a sense of claustrophobia and fear which comes across very well. The additional taxidermy and set design were apparently brought in from around Ireland to add to the surrounding feeling of fear and death. With the ‘From Dusk Till Dawn’ angle, the highly atmospheric soundtrack is composed beautifully by Brian Theodore Tyler, who is also conductor and musician of films such as ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ with the exception of our opening sequence introducing our ‘tiny dancer’ to Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake. Trained as a classical dancer, Alisha shows exceptional talent undertaking many of her own stunts.

Abigail works on the premise of the unknown which is a film that turns the abductee into the abductor, but is unfortunately spoiled in the trailer. However, with mostly great acting, atmospheric sets and a tight storyline, this horror story together well beyond the sum of its parts and creates something quite unexpected. A slasher film which becomes more enjoyable the more times it is watched. Extremely well put together, Abigail flies well above many of the other recent offerings.

Ready or not, Abigail will take you on an extremely enjoyable yet also gory ride.





Author: Piers, Maidstone Store

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