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‘Abigail’ Review: Radio Silence’s newest venture post ‘Scream’

The meta-camp vampire flick from Radio Silence offers some bloody fun twists but did the trailer spoil it all?

Alisha Weir in 'Abigail'. Credit: YouTube/Universal Pictures
Alisha Weir as Abigail in 'Abigail'. Credit: Youtube/Universal Pictures

The comedy horror subgenre Radio Silence has found itself to have gained a dedicated audience with their other films ‘Ready or Not’, ‘Scream 5 & 6’ and now ‘Abigail’ following similar story beats and tone. But despite having four movies to perfect the formula, the criticism with dialogue and writing still remains in Universal Studios’ newest take on Dracula’s Daughter.

⚠️ WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD ⚠️

Is ‘Abigail’ good?

Dan Stevens as Frank in 'Abigail'. Credit: Youtube/Fear
Dan Stevens as Frank in ‘Abigail’. Credit: Youtube/Fear

The story focuses on a group of kidnappers stealing Abigail in hopes of ransom money, holed up in a Victorian mansion for the night. The group of 6 soon find out they bit off more than they could chew (pun intended) when they realise the little girl is not only a vampire but a vampire ballerina. Yes, the concept reaches shlocky horror fun akin to the 80s and its wild ideas are matched with the bloody gore to go with it.

The thing is these crazy concepts are good for a lean 80 or 90 minute movie. ‘Abigail’ however reaches just over 109 minutes and trust me, you feel it. The final act goes on and on and on to the point of exhaustion, as we see the remaining survivors of Joey and Frank try capturing, fighting, and then defending Abigail.

Did I mention Abigail’s father also enters the scene? As you can tell the final 30 minutes shoves everything its got into the mix, hoping something will stick. At times the movie can feel aimless, as it constantly switches gears and tones. That’s not to say it isn’t entertaining, as it doesn’t take itself too seriously. But if you begin to think beyond the surface level of “How did we get here? What is this character doing?” then the cracks begin to show.

The Cast

Angus Cloud, Kathryn Newton, Kevin Durand, Melissa Barrera and Dan Stevens in 'Abigail'. Credit: YouTube/Mayhem Mendes
Angus Cloud, Kathryn Newton, Kevin Durand, Melissa Barrera and Dan Stevens in ‘Abigail’. Credit: YouTube/Mayhem Mendes

The cast includes ‘Scream’ actress Melissa Barrera, Dan Stevens, Will Catlett, Kathryn Newton, Kevin Durand, Matthew Goode the late Angus Cloud (Euphoria) and Alisha Weir (Matilda The Musical) as Abigail. As we see bodies exploding and bite wounds you won’t recover from, Abigail gracefully pirouettes around the mansion, “playing with her food” as she says. Weir is a standout as she goes from a scared, innocent child to a bloodthirsty, manipulative vampire.

Lead Melissa Barrera, who plays mother and ex-addict, Joey is the only one who gets any substantial room for growth, as she barrels her way through the movie and its messy writing. Her initial friendliness with Abigail allows the bond between them to develop into a love/hate relationship. This dynamic reaches some payoff towards the end when now final girl, Joey, is let go after assisting Abigail in taking down her former ‘associate’, Frank, now turned deranged vampire.

Characters bicker constantly with ex-cop, Frank (played by Dan Stevens) who yells every 5 minutes, which leaves no room for any connection or care for these ‘professionals.’ Not that the movie would allow you to think that, considering how incompetent they all are. Everyone else, despite the decent acting, gets relegated to caricatures that we’ve seen a thousand times—the brute, the stoner, the dumb blonde.

Did The Trailer Spoil Everything?

Alisha Weir as Abigail in 'Abigail'. Credit:
Alisha Weir as Abigail in ‘Abigail’. Credit: Youtube/Universal Pictures

Listen, whether you watched the trailer, saw the poster or caught some teasers on social media, the fact the titular character is a vampire isn’t hidden at all. Genre fans may compare the premise to ‘Don’t Breathe’ and its twist of the would-be burglars getting hunted by the ‘victim’.

And while yes, the trailer for that also showed the twist. The movie wasted no time in getting to the point. ‘Abigail’ however spends the first 45 minutes setting up the mystery of who the killer is when we already know. The time spent feels pointless, especially upon subsequent re-watches. Some are saying the movie needed to spoil the twist to promote the movie, but if so, why spoil a majority of the deaths too?

Luckily I went in blind, well as blind as one can be. Being a user of any form of social media means a TV spot or promo gets shoved in your face every five minutes. But having avoided the trailer and all its spoilers I at least got some gruesome surprises.

Unfortunately, spoiler trailers seem to be the most successful marketing tactic as Jason Blum forced ‘The Invisible Man’ to show most of the plot tweeting, “I wish we didn’t have to do that but there is almost no other way to tear people away from Netflix and all the great choices they have at home.”

Melissa Barrera Post ‘Scream’ Controversy

Melissa Barrera as Joey in 'Abigail'. Credit: Youtube/Universal Pictures
Melissa Barrera as Joey in ‘Abigail’. Credit: Youtube/Universal Pictures

Last year, Spyglass announced they were parting ways with Barrera on ‘Scream 7’ due to allegations of ‘hate speech’. This decision saw the actress essentially face a smear campaign targeting her for defending Palestine on social media. However, the star returns to the genre in full swing this year, partnering up with director duo Radio Silence once again for the third time in ‘Abigail’.

She opened up about her departure from the ‘Scream’ franchise in an In The Envelope podcast interview saying, “It also made me stronger. It did change my perspective of what I want to do with my career that goes beyond acting—really continuing to stand up for people that need it, and [speaking] about the state of the world and the injustices.”

She continued, “It gave me so much hope because I’ve found that I have so much support, too. It’s not all nice [in the industry], but there are a lot more loving people and supportive people and like-minded people. So that gives me hope.”

Fan & Critic Reactions

Melissa Barrera and Alisha Weir in 'Abigail'. Credit: YouTube/Universal Pictures
Melissa Barrera and Alisha Weir in ‘Abigail’. Credit: YouTube/Universal Pictures

The movie is doing decently well on review sites, earning an 83% fresh rating and 86% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes. With a total of $28.5 million worldwide on a $28m budget. So, it’s too early to say if it’ll make a huge splash in profit. Letterboxd users are far harsher, with the average ratings reaching three stars.

Owen Gleirberman from Variety said:

“It’s full of grousing kidnappers and blood-vomiting action, little of which is compelling.”

Whilst critic Katey Sullivan of Chicago Reader gave the film a mixed but positive fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes:

“This horror-thriller is chaotic and a bit too long, but in the same vein as 2022’s M3gan, it’s ultimately entertaining.”

Overall ‘Abigail’ is a fun time that will fill your craving until the next big monster movie, at least if you don’t take it too seriously. But don’t go expecting anything revolutionary. If you enjoyed Radio Silence’s past work then you’ll love this.

  • ‘Abigail’ is still currently showing in cinemas watch the trailer here.
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