Published on April 20th, 2024 | by Harris Dang

Abigail – Film Review

Reviewed by Harris Dang on the 18th of April of 2024
Universal Pictures presents a film by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett
Produced by William Sherak, James Vanderbilt, Paul Neinstein, Tripp Vinson, Chad Villella
Written by Stephen Shields and Guy Busick
Starring Alisha Weir, Melissa Barrera, Dan Stevens, Will Catlett, Kathryn Newton, Kevin Durand, Angus Cloud, Giancarlo Esposito, and Matthew Goode
Edited by Michael Shawver
Running Time: 109 minutes
Rating: MA15+
Release Date: the 18th of April 2024

Abigail tells the story of a group of thieves (played by Melissa Barrera, Dan Stevens, Kathryn Newton, William Catlett, Kevin Durand, and Angus Cloud) who are tasked with kidnapping a woman for ransom. Their reward for such a task is huge beyond their wildest dreams. Consequently, they feel they have planned for this moment with such intricacy and accuracy that it cannot fail. They manage to kidnap her successfully and move her to a safe house, chosen by their hirer Lambert (Giancarlo Esposito, in a small role). However, there are some threads in their plan that begin to unravel.

The crew are unbeknownst to the fact that the woman they are kidnapping is a 12-year‑old girl named Abigail (Alisha Weir). The other is that her father is one man they wished they had not messed with. With nothing but their sufficient skill and sheer will to survive the night until the deal has been made, the group begin to suspect each other and will do anything they can to survive. But little do they realise the threat they should be facing is inside the house.

The men behind the camera of Abigail call themselves Radio Silence. The collection of filmmakers consists of Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, Tyler Gillett, and Chad Villella. They are responsible for a series of acclaimed short films in anthologies i.e. V/H/S and Southbound. Their first feature-length film was Devil’s Due (2014), which was said to be a rip-off of Rosemary’s Baby (1968) told through the style of found-footage.


Since then, they gained fame by diving into the Scream franchise. They helmed the last two instalments, which resulted in box office hits and generally positive acclaim. Now they are back outside the franchise game and are now in the same territory as Ready or Not (2019), horror comedies.

In the case with Abigail, we need to address the unfortunate elephant in the room. A lot of the film’s storytelling is reliant on a second act surprise that is meant to surprise audiences by changing the film’s genre. Unfortunately, it has been revealed in the trailers and because of that, the first act becomes a slog to watch. Most of the time is dedicated to establishing characters and the geography of the setting, which is a mansion in a remote location known as Wilhelm Manor.

Apart from the titular role, all the characters are adorned false names, given the occupational hazard. Yet they are all initially saddled with trite characterisations not only based on their appearances in genre expectations but also expectations from the actors’ body of work. Thankfully, screenwriters Stephen Shields and Guy Busick (a frequent collaborator of Radio Silence) play with audience expectations on what to expect of the characters and the cast sink their teeth into subverting said expectations. One example is the casting of Kevin Durand as the muscle of the group. After being typecast as a villain for a lengthy amount of time, it is an absolute joy to see him tap into his comedic potential to play a lovable schlub. Most of the cast do a great job in getting into the fun of the proceedings.

Kathryn Newton is no stranger to horror comedies thanks to films like Freaky (2020) and recently Lisa Frankenstein (2024). Although it is a supporting role, her spirited, kooky energy is enjoyably receptive as it speaks of her character’s lack of experience outside a black screen. Yet it is never a detriment of her character’s skill, which is hacking in technology. Angus Cloud brings the same charisma that made him a well-known name in Euphoria. He makes his wild-card wheelman character engagingly off-kilter, particularly when he may have more intelligence than anyone realised. Special mention must go to his chemistry with Durand, which provides some of the film’s best moments. Alisha Weir sinks her teeth into the role of Abigail in taking on the physicality and comedy of her increasingly feral character with dexterous aplomb.

However, the real show-stealer is Dan Stevens. His body of work (in film) spans across various genres and he is remarkably adept in diving in any of them. For his work in Abigail, he deftly pulls the calm, the acerbic and the outrageous facades of the role with such amazing enthusiasm. He is an utter joy to watch on screen. Melissa Barrera, in comparison, has the straight-faced role here alongside William Catlett. She acquits herself well as someone who conveys a sense of nurturing in which her bond with Abigail pays off. She is cool and in control in almost any given situation. However, much like her role in the Scream films, she is remarkably wooden in the more grisly and violent moments as she does not convince emotionally as someone who is in extreme pain or anguish.

While the film certainly lays on the blood with gleeful abandon, the film does have pacing problems that make proceedings feel quite monotonous. It also does not help that the film takes numerous endings for it to conclude its story too. The comedy hit-rate could also be better, particularly when the film becomes self-referential. The nods to its cinematic and literate influences range from clever (a gloriously disgusting riff on Phenomena, 1985) to boorishly unsubtle (the numerous vampire references which is a riff of a scene in From Dusk Till Dawn, 1996).

Overall, Abigail is a bloody entertaining effort from Radio Silence that proves that horror comedy is their mettle thanks to enthusiastic performances and a jovial sense of fun. Recommended.

Abigail – Film Review Harris Dang

Summary: A bloody entertaining effort from Radio Silence that proves that horror comedy is their mettle thanks to enthusiastic performances and a jovial sense of fun.



About the Author'

Back to Top ↑