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Movie Review: “Abigail”

By Bob Garver


Movie Review: “Abigail”

            After last week’s heavy, serious, ultraviolent “Civil War,” I needed a movie like the lighter, sillier, also ultraviolent “Abigail.” Is this film as intelligent and thought-provoking as last week’s offering - a film that still rules the box office, by the way? No. Is this film going to leave much of an impact on popular culture? Probably not – it doesn’t do much to stand out from similar movies, some from the same people that made this movie. But would I pick “Abigail” over “Civil War” to watch in my free time because it’s much more fun? Oh, yes.


            The film starts out as a kidnapping thriller. A team of strangers work together to abduct 12-year-old Abigail (Alisha Weir) from her family’s home and take her to a mysterious mansion overseen by Lambert (Giancarlo Esposito). He insists on taking everyone’s phones and tells them not to give each other personal details like their real names, though he assigns them nicknames based on the Rat Pack (seems like the kind of detail that should have been worked out ahead of the actual kidnapping, but you’ll be asked to suspend disbelief much further by the movie’s end). Lambert just needs the team to watch the girl for 24 hours while he does Head Kidnapper stuff, during which time Joey (Melissa Barrera) is the only one allowed to tend to Abigail, so she doesn’t see anyone else’s face. Assuming nothing goes wrong, they’ll soon be able to go their separate ways with their share of a $50 million ransom. Things go wrong.


            We spend a few scenes getting to know the team. The aforementioned Joey is a recovering drug addict that just wants to pull this one job and then be a doting mother to her estranged son. Frank (Dan Stevens) is a former cop that has thus far kept his obvious anger issues in check, but looks like he could snap at any moment. Peter (Kevin Durand) is a dumb musclehead that wants people to think of him as more than a dumb musclehead, but is too much of a dumb musclehead to figure out how to change his image. Rickles (William Catlett) is a former soldier clearly harboring many secrets. Sammy (Kathryn Newton) is a spoiled rich kid that turned to a life of crime out of sheer boredom. And Dean (Angus Cloud) is a 99%-useless idiot that happens to have a talent for driving. I mean no disrespect to Cloud, who passed away last year, but this is a movie where characters are expected to be killed off, and I was hoping that Dean would go early. Given how much effort Cloud clearly put into making Dean annoying, I’m sure he’d take me rooting for the character’s death as a compliment.


            But then there’s Abigail herself, and although I don’t want to go too far into spoilers, she turns out to be a doozy of a kidnapping victim. In one swift shift, this goes from a movie about a little girl being locked in with six kidnappers to a movie about the kidnappers being locked in with… what they thought was a little girl. She’s not happy with the kidnappers or what they’ve done in the past. Alliances and deals are made and broken to avoid slaughter at Abigail’s tiny little hands or huge deadly fangs.


            “Abigail” isn’t necessarily a great movie by itself, but it works well as something to hold over certain horror fans. Upset that the “Scream” series is in limbo? Here’s a movie from Radio Silence, the directors of “Scream VI,” plus star Melissa Barrera. Can’t wait until next year for “M3GAN 2.0”? Get your dancing little psycho girl fix here. Sorely miss people exploding like bloody water balloons like in Radio Silence’s 2019 horror hit “Ready or Not”? This movie just might have you covered. History will probably see “Abigail” as a middling horror movie at best, but here and now it earns bonus points for coming along at the right time.

Grade: B-

“Abigail” is rated R for strong bloody violence and gore throughout, pervasive language and brief drug use. Its running time is 109 minutes.

Contact Bob Garver at rrg251@nyu.edu.




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