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In the movie Abigail, Radio Silence filmmakers Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett continue to make a specific type of horror film that harkens back to a bygone era. While horror has always been rich with great films, many recent efforts have been more serious and challenging to rewatch, such as Midsommar and The Witch. It’s been a while since directors have found the right balance between terror and pure popcorn entertainment, as we saw in movies like The Lost Boys and Scream. But Abigail strikes that balance perfectly, making this horror movie fun to watch.

The new film spectacularly brings back the vampire genre, producing thrills, laughter, and surprises at every corner. Abigail might be one of the most entertaining horror experiences in quite some time. It’s one of the few films in the horror genre that this reviewer might rewatch in theaters. 

The story in Universal’s Abigail

Written by Guy Busick (Scream 5, Ready or Not) and Stephen Shields (The Hole in the Ground), the film centers on a group of criminals brought together as strangers to kidnap a child (Alisha Weir). When the movie begins, the script takes no time to explain anything and throws the audience into action. These strangers are in the middle of a job but don’t know each other. They have a specific target, a child who has just finished ballet and seems to be from wealth as she enters a limousine.

Once the child (who we learn is named Abigail) is kidnapped, the unlikely team takes the kid to a secluded mansion in the middle of nowhere, where the crew meets their contact named Lambert (Giancarlo Esposito). And it’s in this setting where each character is given fake names to avoid the possibility of snitching on one another.

There’s our protagonist Joey (Melissa Barrera), a confrontational man with a possible first responder background named Frank (Dan Stevens), a getaway driver named Dean (played by the late Angus Cloud), the muscle of the operation Peter (Kevin Durand), the tech wizard Sammy (Kathryn Newton), and to round out the group of potential vampire food is a sniper named Rickles (William Catlett). 

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Melissa Barrerra and Dan Stevens in Abigail (Universal Studios)

The setting is established, the characters get in place, and Lambert lays out the objective. They must hold the child for 24 hours and ask zero questions. And once the ransom is paid, they will walk away rich. However, as the trailer and poster reveal, Abigail is not the average little girl. 

This scary movie has a robust setup and a strong cast

Like Ready or Not, the Radio Silence director duo exercises one of their greatest strengths. Much like that movie, Abigail utilizes a one-setting location quite effectively. We get a true sense of the spatial environment as the characters move around the mansion from room to room.

The production design is also impressive, with everything having an old Victorian texture and some rooms having an abandoned feel, such as filth on the walls, cobwebs, etc. And at the same time, viewers will believe the location would still go on sale for millions of dollars. 

In the movie, the initial setup is crucial as it lays the foundation for the rest of the story. Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett take a patient approach when introducing every character at the film’s beginning. Despite the fast-paced nature of the opening, the characters are introduced in a way that doesn’t feel rushed. The audience gets to know each character, their motivations, and personalities, even with mystery and fake names. Although most of these characters are not likable, they are written with depth, allowing the audience to sympathize with some of them. 

The cast is excellent, but Melissa Barrera and Dan Stevens stand out. Barrera maintains the intense vulnerability she brought to Scream 5 and 6. It’s a shame the Scream 5 actress won’t be in Scream 7. She is highly gifted as a lead performer and grows with each movie. Dan Stevens requires no explanation. He is incredible in everything. 

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Alisha Weir in Abigail (Universal Studios)

Then there is Abigail herself. Alisha Weir (Matilda) is a showstopper as the monstrous vampire Abigail. She does not hold back at all in every frame of this movie. The results can be hit or miss with child actors, especially in horror movies. There is not a scared bone in her body. Weir is fearless as a performer, and watching her throughout the film is so much fun. 

Abigail is unpredictable, hilarious, and thrilling 

The works of Wes Craven have heavily influenced Radio Silence. Craven was a master at balancing genuine terror with humor, and films like The People Under the Stairs, the Scream trilogy, and even thrillers like Red Eye showcased his talent for delivering an entertaining experience. Similarly, Abigail features plenty of horrific violence but also finds humor in the terror, making the characters’ responses to the situation both relatable and hilarious. It’s hard not to laugh when seeing a grown man screaming in a high-pitched voice while running away from a tiny little girl. 

The Abigail movie’s execution of vampires is marked by a playful and unpredictable approach to the lore. The filmmakers creatively incorporated vampire tropes and ideas to subvert expectations or add humorous moments. Without revealing too much, there is a scene in which the little vampire unexpectedly displays a talent that will leave the audience in stitches. 

This is another successful horror from Radio Silence that might become a surprise hit for Universal Studios. There’s nothing wrong with a scary movie that takes itself seriously. However, sometimes, it’s refreshing to see a film that brings back the entertainment value of the genre. Abigail is precisely that kind of movie. It has serious and extremely gory elements, but it is a crowd-pleaser.

Abigail is now in theaters! Are you planning to see this scary movie soon? Let us know on social media @mycosmiccircus or in The Cosmic Circus Discord!

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John Dotson

Born and raised in Texas, John Dotson has been a film pundit for over 10 years, writing reviews and entertainment coverage at various online outlets. His favorite thing in the world is discussing movies with others who also love the art form.

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