The guys over at Radio Silence just get it. They know how to deliver such fun cinematic experiences within the horror genre; Ready or Not and the two latest Scream films doing just that. No coincidence either that all three were co-directed by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett, who continue the trend this year with Abigail, a new entry into the vampire sub-genre that provides copious amounts of entertainment.

A group of would-be criminals kidnaps Abigail (Alisha Weir), the 12-year-old daughter of a powerful underworld figure. Holding her for ransom in an isolated mansion, their plan starts to unravel when they discover their young captive is actually a bloodthirsty vampire.
Abigail wastes no time in getting straight into proceedings, the kidnapping of a young girl who's just finished ballet practice certainly one way to open your film. We are fleetingly introduced to the ragtag crew of criminals tasked with such a despicable mission - don't worry we learn more about them all later on in the film. We don't need a major back story for each and every character, the simple setup here means we very much get the stereotypical characters you'd expect in something like this. Then things gets very interesting...

Stephen Shields and Guy Busick tease the audience with their screenplay, waiting for the reveal we all know is coming, making it even sweeter when all hell breaks loose. There's some humour scattered throughout, mainly coming from the crew verbally sparring with one another however, it's moments like Abigail utilising her dance background to parade around with the body of a victim that is what the true horror fans are waiting for. It's little moments like this that hit the tone perfectly and fuel the fire for more carnage, the Swan Lake music playing its part quite beautifully.
Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett orchestrate the downfall of the crew members in such fine fashion, playing around with tropes of the genre to leave you guessing who's next - some definitely catching you off guard with a few surprises in there too, so I would implore watching this without seeing any trailers. It earns its rating too with some strong bloody violence that these filmmakers are certainly making a trait of theirs, if this and Ready or Not are anything to go by anyway. The closing moments of Abigail certainly makes me think they have a calling card with how their films will end, outside of the franchise efforts like Scream. Honestly, it's great to see people not afraid to go there with their films and a film like Abigail definitely warrants the copious amounts of blood that drench the halls of such a decadent location. As much as the violence is a welcome one, the film treads a fine line in almost not knowing when to end though, almost overstaying its welcome in the process - maybe a slight over-indulgence from the filmmakers in that regard. 

The ensemble cast are literally having as much of a blast as the audience too, Melissa Barrera leading the film with another confident turn as a strong female protagonist in a horror film. It's a genre that really suits her so it wouldn't be a bad thing if she stuck around to do more in the future. Dan Stevens is having a year where he just lets loose and unleashes his undeniable charisma on audiences while Kathryn Newton feels as gleefully playful as she did in Freaky, where she excelled. It's Alisha Weir though who absolutely steals the show as the titular Abigail, undeniably revelling in the chance to play such a character. Hard to believe this is the same kid who was singing and dancing her way through Matilda a few years ago.

Abigail is one of the most entertaining films of the year and leads the way for the horror genre in my eyes so far in 2024. Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett have cemented themselves as horror filmmakers to look out for, especially if they keep delivering films as entertaining as Abigail.

Verdict: ★★★★


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