Horror comedy that delivers both : The Tribune India

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Horror comedy that delivers both

Horror comedy that delivers both

The movie is plot-driven and turns into a fast-paced crowd-pleaser swiftly.

Film: Abigail

Director: Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett

Cast: Alisha Weir, Melissa Barrera, Dan Stevens, Angus Cloud, Kathryn Newton, William Catlett, Kevin Durand, Giancarlo Esposito

Johnson Thomas

Originally proposed as a re-imagination of the 1936 Universal horror movie, ‘Dracula’s Daughter’, the scripting process turned it into something else altogether. It’s brainless, but a whole lot of fun too.

A gang of desperate criminals kidnaps a young girl returning from her on-stage ballet practice session. The opening sequence is quite beautiful, setting an exquisite tone and tenor for the mayhem that is going to be unleashed later on. The classical signature tune hits the sweet spot immediately and keeps haunting you at regular intervals thereafter.

This latest film from Radio Silence team directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett, makers of ‘Ready or Not’ and the last two ‘Scream’ franchise instalments, makes the average look gross, off-putting and entertaining. After all, isn’t that what the horror fans flock to the theatre for?

It’s a silly conceit, and the filmmakers are totally committed to get the most out of this genre fix.

The screenplay by Stephen Shields and Guy Busick sticks closely to B-movie tropes. The narrative aims at a brainless, popcorn horror mix with laughs and scares in equal measure. The excess of splattery gore is certainly enjoyable, even though it comes at the expense of a wafer-thin script.

The narrative, especially in the first half, is quite funny. Lambert (Giancarlo Esposito) hires a group of six misfits for a kidnap job. They don’t know, nor do they care about the victim being a 12-year-old wannabe ballerina.

The film has a strong cast that includes Melissa Barrera, Kathryn Newton, Dan Stevens, Angus Cloud and Kevin Durand (most with a horror genre background) and they fit well into the mythology being created here.

Abigail, played by Alisha Weir (last seen in the musical ‘Matilda’), is the standout performer. She is great at comedy, does the ballerina stunts beautifully and acts out the part of a sweet, vulnerable victim with great conviction. Even when we know she is scamming her captors, we want to believe that she is the innocent victim here.

‘Abigail’ is not for the faint-hearted. Even so, that doesn’t stop you from getting totally involved. It’s a perfect combination of the horrifying and weirdly fascinating.

The atmosphere build-up is solid. The production design helps nail the creepy, ghastly routine. The acting isn’t award-worthy, but is convincing enough for us to get immersed in the mythology. The horror fan is likely to get excited about some serious blood and guts that the film has in great measure.

The movie is plot-driven and turns into a fast-paced and gore-soaked horror crowd-pleaser quite swiftly. ‘Abigail’ isn’t a masterpiece by any yardstick, but it manages to get the audience revved up with its outrageous, revolting and horrifying genre kitsch.