(dirs. Matt Benetelli-Olpin & Tyler Gillett)

By: Adam Freed

It isn’t supposed to work this way.  There cannot be a reality in which a film about a preteen kidnapping for ransom victim who turns out to be a vampire is actually good is there?  Come to find out that reality exists and the film Abigail is here to prove it.  Just how shockingly enjoyable Abigail reveals to be should offer little surprise to fans of directorial partners Matt Benetelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett, who in a half decade have bestowed late night film crowds with nearly a handful of brilliantly winking gore-filled genre fare. Co-directors Benetelli-Olpin and Gillett are responsible for the successful franchise reboot Scream (2022), as well as Scream VI (2023), in addition to Ready or Not (2019), the partnership’s exquisite proof of concept that blood, guts and laughs can simultaneously coexist.  

Abigail, the not so helpless twelve year old ballerina, becomes the target of the aforementioned elaborate kidnapping plot as she is the daughter of a very wealthy and high profile father.  The first act of the film wastes no time as it offers a blistering paced introduction to both characters and concept, an avoided hurdle that could have easily bogged down lesser films by the sheer size of the heist team tasked with Abigail’s abduction.  Instead, audiences will be provided only the barest of necessities with regard to character development, a choice that serves the film’s pace with brilliance.  Long before theatergoers have an opportunity to make a dent in their popcorn, they will find themselves locked in a gothic old mansion with six perpetrators of wavering moral repute and one very dangerous little girl.  The reversal of the film’s power dynamic in which the team of hunters become the hunted is irresistibly fun.

Abigail’s most glaring shortcoming is on the part of its marketing team, which betrays far too much information about a film that may have grown into the year’s runaway word of mouth hit.  Instead, audiences will spend the first half of the film waiting for a transformation already promised in the film’s two minute spoiler laden trailer.  How insecure Project X and Universal Pictures must be to lack faith in their deliciously fanged rated R tween gorefest, to have given away so much of a good thing for free.  Pleasantly, there is plenty of blood coursing through the veins of this film to unearth a phalanx of delightful revelations not already force fed to audiences via marketing campaign.  Credit to filmmakers  Benetelli-Olpin and Gillett for establishing a consistency of pace and tone, both of which elevate a film that in lesser hands may have become a burden.  As is, Abigail is a late night delight offering an enticing concoction of panic and playfulness sure to satiate even the most bloodthirsty of audiences.      

Target Score 7/10 - Abigail has bite.  It is witty, bold, violent and least of all downright fun.  The film never falls into the trap of attempting to elevate itself above the workings of its premise and in so doing presents an enjoyable and bloodsoaked trip to the cinema.