Alisha Weir screams as the vampire Abigail | Agents of Fandom

Dan Stevens and Melissa Barrera Entertain in Bonkers Dracula Riff ‘Abigail’

Effective humor, over-the-top violence, and some amusing performances Radio Silence’s vampire film

As I was arriving at my screening of Radio Silence’s — filmmaking trio comprising directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett and producer Chad Villella (V/H/S, Ready or Not, Scream [2022]) — Abigail, Variety dropped a story detailing the timeline of Melissa Barrera’s exit from Scream 7, which directly coincides with her work on the vampire flick. Luckily for horror fans, this didn’t affect her turning in what may be her best performance yet in a horror joint.

When Abigail is firing on all cylinders, it succeeds as a high-octane horror comedy with surprisingly hilarious beats. Some performances stand out more than others, particularly Dan Stevens’ Frank, Kathryn Newton as Sammy, and Angus Cloud in his final performance. I expected to have a good time and walked out more than pleased with the experience.

‘Abigail’ Plays Well Within the Confines of Its Story

The main cast of Abigail arrive to the mansion with an unconscious Abigail | Agents of Fandom
Abigail‘s so-called rat pack has no idea what the night has in store for them. Image Credit: Universal.

It takes Abigail a bit to unfurl its story and premise, a surprisingly simple kidnapping film that eventually escalates into a gratuitous gore fest that had the theater busting out laughs at a consistent rate throughout the 109-minute runtime. A group of criminals who don’t know each other go by the generic names Frank, Sammy, Dean, Joey, and Rickles meet up to pull off a job.

This requires the crew to kidnap a 12-year-old girl named Abigail (Alisha Weir) and transport her to a secluded mansion, where they must wait 24 hours to extort her rich father for $50 million. Things go awry when the job turns out to not be at all as it seemed and the crew starts to get picked off by whom they assume is one of Abigail’s mysterious father’s assassins.

While the gang learns more about each other, they realize the child they’re holding hostage upstairs is actually a vampire. Abigail flips conventional vampire tropes on their head, with characters’ bewilderment at the existence of vampires, likening them to popular franchises like Twilight and True Blood and the ineffectiveness of typical “vampire weapons” such as garlic and crucifixes.

Interestingly, other conventions remain, such as the aversion to sunlight and susceptibleness to wooden stakes — these things actually cause the creatures to explode like stomped ketchup packets, which could be a nod to the excess blood of the aforementioned True Blood. But, if you get too caught up in the lore, the narrative starts to unravel, so it’s best to just sit back and enjoy the bloodbath.

Great Humor and Delightful Performances Outshine Lackluster Writing

Kathryn Newton fighting on Abigail's back to restrain her in Abigail | Agents of Fandom
You have to get your hands dirty in a fight against a vampire, even if you’re just a hacker. Image Credit: Universal.

There are times when Abigail feels like it’s trying too hard to give its characters compelling backstories or step out of what the audience recognizes as the vampire box, even trying too hard to mix too many genres and homages into one complete, compelling package.

The rest of the runtime makes you forget about these woes. The cast is given some funny material to work with, often making the most of the campy comedy that sees them screaming and running throughout the dilapidated mansion trying to figure out how to kill Abigail or get the hell out. Stevens, in particular, eats up everything that is put on his plate, elevating what should have been a run-of-the-mill thug into someone who makes you root both for his survival and his savage elimination.

Kathryn Newton’s Sammy is the most sympathetic character in the group, but again, the film loses its shine when it delves too deeply into the history of its characters. Angus Cloud turns in the perfect performance for his role, desperately begging for more screen time, which he unfortunately doesn’t get. Similarly, Giancarlo Esposito makes the most out of his all-too-limited minutes onscreen.

But none of this works without a rock-solid performance from the titular vampire. Alisha Weir turns in a stellar showing, managing to innocently fleet across the screen at times while baring her teeth in a ferocious rage in others. Her energy is chaotic, and she plays perfectly with her more veteran cast. Melissa Barrera continues to improve with each project she’s in, and manages to make her one-dimensional character compelling despite the script’s constant attempts against that.

Could the world and story-building be improved? Yes. But I’ll be damned if I didn’t have a great time. Abigail isn’t trying to be a highbrow horror, and when it leans into its unhinged, camp violence, it creates a memorable entry in the vampire pantheon. I’m hoping for a sequel that doubles down on everything that makes it special while improving on the promising backstories it’s set up, and I’m rooting for Melissa Barrera to win the Scream breakup.

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'Abigail' Review

'Abigail' Review
4 5 0 1
4.0 rating
Total Score

The Good

  • I was laughing throughout most of the film.
  • The actors are having a genuinely good time, and you will too.
  • A great blend of action, comedy, and horror keeps you on your toes.

The Bad

  • The lackluster writing holds back what should be an exceptional horror movie.
  • There is a noticeable difference in quality between emotional and comedic beats.
  • Some of the best characters (and performances) don't get enough screen time.
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