Abigail (Blu-ray)

After a group of criminals kidnap the ballerina daughter of a powerful underworld figure, they retreat to an isolated mansion, unaware that they're locked inside with no normal little girl.

July 8, 2024 8 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton and Matt Malouf

Plot: What’s it about?

Abigail is the sort of film that I imagine advertising execs hate. What I mean by that is that there’s a pretty big twist about midway through, but I can see it being a somewhat hard film to market. What might’ve been a good secret in the pre-internet (or internet infancy) and especially pre-social media days seems like something that would have been spilled regardless in today’s world. I am reminded a bit of From Dusk ‘Til Dawn  and a tad from The Usual Suspects. Who’d have ever thought those two movies would have a hybrid? Many films have done this, or misled audiences, but I keep wracking my brain on how I would approach it. Before I go too far down that rabbit hole, I will assume most people reading this review will know the film’s big twist. With that said, if you don’t and would like to remain in the dark then I would suggest you not read further.

The plot is rather simple: A group of criminals are brought together by Lambert (Giancarlo Esposito) for a high-paying job. They don’t know one another and assume aliases (think Reservoir Dogs). The twist is that these are members of the “Rat Pack.” We’ve got Frank (Dan Stevens), Sammy (Kathryn Newton), Joey (Melissa Barrera), Peter (Kevin Durand), Dean (Angus Cloud) and Rickles (Will Catlett). This is a different variety than those of Ocean’s Eleven. Their mission is rather simple – to kidnap a 12-year old ballerina named, you guessed it, Abigail (Alisha Weir) and then demand millions for her wealthy father for her return. Of course, there’s a snag and what the group finds out the hard way is…(spoiler) the child is a vampire. And not just any vampire. To further complicate matters, the house they’re hiding out in has been locked down for 24 hours, so like it or not – they’re committed.

The film gets a lot of things right. I liked how the characters tried to work together and even escape, with some offering to forgo their cut of the loot, preferring to escape and remain anonymous instead. All of this is good stuff. It’s the film’s second half where things slow down a bit, but where the film also throws too much at us. There are just too many twists here and character moments that would’ve worked better with simplicity instead. I appreciated that it doesn’t dispose of the characters too quickly and keeps things a bit unpredictable, but it reaches a point of exhaustion before long. This would’ve felt so much more effective with a leaner running time rather than the final product which starts to drag. There’s still more than enough good here to recommend, but it becomes more exhaustive than entertaining before long.

Video: How’s it look?

This isn’t a bright and cheerful movie both in tone and its physical representation on screen, but that’s not to say that it doesn’t look good. Darker tones take the lead with this 2.39:1 AVC HD encode, it gives more of an open sense of space in the huge mansion the film takes place in. Contrast, I found, was strong with equally impressive black levels. Detail, as we might expect, is top notch. That may be a good thing or a bad one depending on seeing someone getting their throats eaten by a vampire. All in all, it’s certainly indicative of a new-to-the-format disc and one that’ll leave viewers more than happy.

Audio: How’s it sound?

I’m scratching my head wondering why they didn’t just go full Dolby Atmos on this one. What’s included doesn’t necessarily sound bad though, not by any means. We get a Dolby TrueHD 7.1 track that effectively utilizes every speaker in your setup. From some low LFE sounds to the surrounds adding a creepy aura of “weirdness” during a few scenes. I have no idea what the appropriate sound is supposed to be when biting another person’s neck, but for the time being we’ll just assume they hit the nail on the head. Suffice it to say this too leaves little room for improvement.

Supplements: What are the extras?

  • Audio Commentary – Directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin & Tyler Gillett and Editor Michael P. Shawyer make a for a decent commentary track. The usual topics are discussed, but I found it odd that there’s a lot more technical talk about the production design, the look and feel of the house and whatnot. At any rate, any fan of the film will enjoy this one.
  • Deleted & Extended Scenes – There isn’t a lot to see here as we’ve got nearly seven minutes of deleted scenes. They’re not labeled and don’t have much context. I didn’t find much value in these.
  • Gag Reel – In the “been there, done that” department we’ve got this. You all know what to expect.
  • Blood Bath – Soak up the slaughter alongside the cast and crew with this dive into the deep end of Abigail’s body pits, where practical FX reign supreme and there’s no such thing as too much blood.
  • Hunters to Hunted – Get up close and personal with Abigail’s abductors as the cast divulges the details behind how they got into character to collectively create a unique crew of criminals.
  • Becoming a Ballerina Vampire – Abigail actor Alisha Weir, choreographer Belinda Murphy, and more members of the creative team take up the task of transforming a seemingly sweet little girl into a vicious vampire.
  • Directing Duo Matt & Tyler – Directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett lead this look at the actors, ideas, and environment they put together to create a set that’s fun while still being fearsome.

The Bottom Line

Abigail has some good moments, to be sure. But any movie-lover knows that in a film with an ensemble cast, particularly in a horror movie, we’ll see them picked off one by one. I always try and guess the order. And I’m always wrong. It’s not a total waste of time, just a tad predictable and they really didn’t seem to know when and/or how to end it. That said, it’s a good-looking film with a decent selection of extras – so any true fans out there should be amply satisfied. 

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