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Abigail delivers glorious gore and biting humor 

Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett (Ready or Not, Scream 2022) co-direct this horror film about a group of kidnappers who snatch a mob boss's daughter, Abigail (Alisha Weir), sequestering her in a secluded mansion as they await their payday, only to discover she's infinitely more dangerous than they are. (104 min.)

click to enlarge WHAT BIG TEETH YOU HAVE Kidnapped Abigail (Alisha Weir) turns out to be more dangerous than expected for the group of criminals now trapped in a mansion with her, in Abigail, screening in local theaters. - COURTESY PHOTO BY BERNARD WALSH/UNIVERSAL PICTURES
  • Courtesy Photo By Bernard Walsh/universal Pictures
  • WHAT BIG TEETH YOU HAVE Kidnapped Abigail (Alisha Weir) turns out to be more dangerous than expected for the group of criminals now trapped in a mansion with her, in Abigail, screening in local theaters.

Editor's note: Glen and Anna Starkey took the week off from Split Screen.


Caleb Teen actor Alisha Weir has a knack for playing children endowed with special powers they use to ward off mean-spirited adults. In 2022's Matilda the Musical, Weir's Matilda Wormwood used her telekinesis to punish her ruthless headmistress Miss Trunchbull for countless cruelties. When some career kidnappers in 2024's Abigail—in which Weir plays a young ballerina hostage with an appetite for human blood and the vampiric traits to acquire it—meet their gruesome ends at the hands and teeth of the film's title character, the carnage feels justified because they get what's coming to them. The gore is also cartoonish in all the right ways. Shortly after Abigail's captors become privy to their target's true self, there's a sequence where some goons walk in on the 12-year-old in a tutu and pointe shoes dancing with a headless corpse to music from Swan Lake. It's scenes like this that owe as much to Bugs Bunny as Dracula's Daughter, the 1936 film Abigail's directors have cited as a major inspiration.

Bulbul Directors Bettinelli-Olpin and Gillett take Abigail to an old haunt: the locked-room—rather, a locked-mansion—thriller. They put their characters through this test in Ready or Not and Scream (2022), now putting Abigail's victims Joey (Melissa Barrera), Frank (Dan Stevens), Sammy (Kathryn Newton), Dean (Angus Cloud), Peter (Kevin Durand), and Rickles (William Catlett) through the same wringer. Meant to guard Abigail for 24 hours before their ransom arrives, the criminal group instead deals with a vampire child. It triggers their senses of fight or flight but a darker shadow looms over the bloody manor—who exactly is Abigail's undead don of a father? While the film teases the audience with the possibility of his reveal, it cuts through the tension with the occasional joke and one-liner that makes Abigail a fun weeknight watch.

Caleb It's delightful watching Abigail pull her keepers apart, but these characters aren't fleshed out enough for my taste. I get that they're supposed to be cannon fodder, but comparable crooks like Home Alone's Harry and Marv served the same purpose much more memorably. Each member of the kidnapping team has their own superficial skill (Dean is the getaway driver, Sammy is the computer hacker, Frank is the tough guy with a thick Boston accent, etc.), but that's pretty much all we get. By default, the most sympathetic character in the movie is Joey because ... she has a son ... and, in true Spider-Man villain fashion, turned to a life of crime to support him. I doubt she's the only parent in the bunch, but she's the only one who shows Abigail some semi-motherly compassion before the vampire stuff starts. It feels tacked on just to give us at least one person to root for who isn't undead.

Bulbul Joey definitely became the formulaic Final Girl but she doesn't receive the same level of depth and care as Samara Weaving's character in Ready or Not. The characterization seemed rushed, and makers of this film seemed too caught up in the premise of a vampire-ballerina-underworld heiress. Yet we never get to know who Abigail is and why her dad turned her. We get clues about her past through a sinister sculpture of her and her dad, and an ancient tapestry that shows Abigail frozen in time. It's a far cry from 11-year-old Kirsten Dunst's portrayal of the little vampire in Interview with a Vampire, but unlike Dunst's Claudia, Abigail appears to enjoy her life as an eternal girl. Maybe she copes with her fate by playing with her food. Abigail piqued my curiosity of the titular character, but I doubt a sequel is in the works to answer my questions. Δ

Staff Writer Bulbul Rajagopal and Calendar Editor Caleb Wiseblood wrote Split Screen this week. Senior Staff Writer Glen Starkey and freelancer Anna Starkey wrote the miniseries reviews. Comment at [email protected].


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