Abilgail (Theatrical)

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.

April 24, 2024 6 Min Read

Review by: 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 till Dawn which begins as one film and before long turns into an entirely another altogether. 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 plan here is simple: Kidnap a young girl whose father is super wealthy and demand a large ransom for her safe return. We’re introduced to a handful of characters early on, and these will be the characters we will then follow through the rest of the film. Identity and names are kept secret, so I will go by with the names the characters here are given. The handler is Lambert (Giancarlo Esposito), Frank (Dan Stevens), Joey (Melissa Barrera), Peter (Kevin Durand), Dean (Angus Cloud), Sammy (Kathryn Newton) and Rickles (Will Catlett). They’re to kidnap the young ballerina named Abigail (Alisha Weir). The payout will be $50 million which will be split evenly among the crew and the handler. The film was a lot of fun, especially early on with the heist and the initial setup. I particularly liked the way the characters first meet each other and their back-and-forth banter. This is a film that earns its R-Rating, which doesn’t shy away from a four-letter word and its variants, as well as plenty of blood and gore. The kidnaping goes down with surprisingly little trouble. They are set up at an old mansion where they blindfold and handcuff our title character. At first, it’s easy to feel sorry for Abigail, but then we quickly learn just who it is that they’ve kidnapped. Abigal is in fact a vampire. The film does a good job at not giving too much too soon, instead focusing on amusing character moments. And the cast is certainly likeable here. We have two buff males, one of whom is a true Duffus. Kevin Durand’s character has the brawns but certainly not much in the way of brains. Dan Stevens was fun to watch as well. I was surprised at how effective the late Angus Cloud was as well. The young actor passed away in 2023, and at first, it’s hard to watch because of how soon, but he commits to his character enough that it wasn’t too distracting. All of this leads to the kidnappers having to find a way to stop Abigailwhile also trying to escape the mansion, which becomes boarded and locked up.

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 (maybe 90-100 minute) 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.

The Bottom Line

Abigail was mostly a good time out at the moments. It gives us more than enough bang for our buck. It doesn’t compromise with the rating, and the cast was fun to watch. It’s just that it doesn’t know when or where exactly to end. We get repeated plot twists and a too-long running time that I was more relieved by the time it ended. I am giving it a mild recommendation because it gets a lot right. I just feel that a leaner film would’ve been more effective.