Abigail bites into more than it can chew

Fri. April 19, 2024 12:00 AM
by Jerry Nunn

Irish actress Alisha Weir stars as the title character Abigail and this triple threat from Matilda the Musical unfortunately can't save this blood-soaked cinematic tale. Abigail was inspired by a 1936 film Dracula's Daughter in an attempt to make fresh content. The trailer reveals too much by giving away the fact that Abigail is a “ballerina vampire” and spoils the best line in the movie referring to the child's eating habits.

The convoluted storyline revolves around six kidnappers who abduct a young dancer named Abigail for a ransom. She's stashed in a high-tech mansion to wait for the money to arrive from her powerful father to the bumbling codenamed characters involved.

Abigail needs better babysitters as she's chained to a bed and starving to death. This Black Swan eventually breaks free and a bloody battle ensues including a visit from dear old dad. This marks another mishap as Matthew Goode is miscast as Kristof Lazar. He's not intimidating or scary to balance Weir's Abigail on pointe.

Directing and writing partners Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett have a track record that may reveal where the problems for Abigail lie. Their previous thriller Ready or Not displayed the same theme of bringing wacky personalities together in a contrived situation and Scream VI showed the two over-explaining plot lines.

There's mention of a Rat Pack in Abigail, but it's actually more of a Brat Pack from The Breakfast Club where people from different walks of life are forced to stay in a claustrophobic environment together.

The set up is complicated and then the writers take a stab at comedy within the horror realm to no avail. The performers convey the jokes realistically but are hampered by the unrealistic environment.

Who are we supposed to root for? The greedy team members are motivated by cash and are depicted as flawed individuals. At one point a kidnapper turns out to be more dangerous than Abigail so suddenly she's supposed to step up and be the hero in the moment. It's another example of the manipulating filmmakers losing control of the plot and then tossing in unexpected twists to keep the audience engaged.

Melissa Barrera does a fine job with grounding the material, but her hands are tied and chained to a script that's poorly written. Kathryn Newton should fire her agent after the awkward Lisa Frankenstein film earlier this year and the Marvel Cinematic Universe may have to supply the dough until she finds her footing in the entertainment world. The always charming Giancarlo Esposito snatches a paycheck and isn't given much to do, similar to other cast members.

Abigail pays homage to Angus Cloud, who passed away from a drug overdose after filming finished, with a dedication at the end.

Abigail tries to be too many things, but at the same time doesn't try anything new or attempt to reinvigorate the vampire trope. Instead, it promotes past stereotypes and makes jokes about other inspirations such as True Blood, Twilight and Anne Rice's legacy. Renslow is a much better attempt with original ideas and M3GAN at least tried out TikTok choreography.

Abigail bites into too much and tries to be all these things plus much more. Pinky promises and surviving on a wing and prayer prove to be not enough for this feathered fiend.

Universal Pictures' Abigail dances into movie theaters everywhere on April 19, 2024.