Abigail: The Prima Ballerina of Pain is a Revelation in Horror Comedy

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Iain McParland
| May 1, 2024
hello world!

The trailer summarizes it best when Melissa Barrera and Kathryn Newton’s characters say, “We kidnapped a vampire… a ballerina vampire.” 

Yup. You did, and now you’re freaking screwed!

That’s the premise of Abigail, the new horror comedy from Universal Pictures, directed by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett. After an eclectic gang of criminals are contracted to kidnap a young girl, everything begins to go awry while they are waiting for the ransom to be paid. You see, that little girl is no ordinary little girl.

And she’s hangry!

Story

A team of criminals is assembled by the mysterious Lambert (Giancarlo Esposito) to kidnap the daughter of a very wealthy man. The team knows nothing about each other, nor the kidnapped girl, save for the fact she’s an accomplished ballerina. Sequestered to a spooky old Scooby Doo mansion, all Criminals Inc. has to do is take care of the girl until her father pays a $50 million ransom. 

Easy, right? Wrong. 

Abigail (Alisha Weir) is the daughter of a dangerous and renowned Kingpin-type dude, and when members of Criminal Inc. begin to be decapitated and such, the gang gets kinda squirrelly. Is someone a mole? Did someone infiltrate the safehouse? Is Abigail a centuries-old vampire with a passion for mind games and a thirst for blood, with the captors becoming the captives?…

Left-field as it may be, yes, she is. Let’s see if anyone gets out of this alive!

Abigail and the Rats

The Rat Pack is back!

For a relatively small cast, the mix of characters was awesome. NOBODY is boring, and everybody is different. It’s so rare to see a cast so varied and brimming with personality in these types of movies. The Rats (their codenames are all members of the Rat Pack, but they’re also rats in a cage) are different shades of bad people. Hell, they kidnapped a little girl! However, I still found myself caring about each one enough to want them to survive!

If you squint your eyes a bit, you could categorize The Rats as the archetypes from The Cabin in the Woods. The Athlete is Peter (Kevin Durand), a muscley but dumb French-Canadian. The Scholar would be Sammy (Kathryn Newton), a spoiled hacker genius. Dean (Angus Cloud) somehow fills out The Fool and The Whore in one tight package. And then there’s The Virgin (doesn’t have to be an actual virgin, just more virtuous than the others) Joey (Melissa Barrera), the real protagonist of this story, the girl who is initially motherly to Abigail before everything goes to sh*t. 

I’ve not even mentioned Frank, played terrifically by Dan Stevens, the weaselly ex-cop with no compassion. I mean, this guy is an absolute d-bag, and I hoped Abigail would gut him like a fish!

Finally, let’s talk about Abigail. Holy freaking shirtballs, Alisha Weir can act. Far from her previous role as Matilda in Matilda: The Musical, she portrays a helpless, scared girl and a terrifying vampire with impeccable precision. If I was her father, I don’t know if I’d be able to sleep at night out of fear she’d kill me in my sleep! She’s a revelation.

Horror and Comedy

She looks so sweet, right?

Abigail is a horror comedy, and it brings both aspects in abundance. The violence is exquisite, and it’s pretty damn bloody too. We’re talking the opening scene of Blade bloody, where the floor is a river of crimson rather than that stately-looking tile mosaic that was there a moment ago. I’ve already mentioned a decapitation, for Pete’s sake! What more do you want?

The Rats bring the comedy. Near the beginning of the movie, when they’re celebrating a job well done, a few of them get absolutely sauced! Their group dynamic is hilarious, especially under the influence of social lubrication. As everyone is a little less guarded than they would usually be, it lets us get to know and like this group, and it makes for some awkward and silly moments. 

But it’s when both genres meet that this film really excels. The Rats react how any group of people would react to learning a little girl is a vampire: pure confusion and chaos. There is a scene with some garlic and a crucifix, which highlights this perfectly. I’d rather not say exactly what happens because the surprise makes it! It’s excellently done.

Marketing

I WAS WRONG!

So, here’s where my biggest qualm is with this movie. I’ve talked about this openly because it’s in all of the trailers, the marketing material, and HELL, it’s baked into the design of the film’s logo. Abigail is a ballerina vampire. But that reveal only happens just before halfway through its runtime. 

It’s built up to be this massive twist, but we, as the viewer, know more than the characters. And it’s only unintentionally ironic because of all of the marketing. I can’t help but think if it would have been better to not reveal the unveiling. The build to that reveal is great in the movie, sans the knowledge of the reveal, so the shock factor isn’t there!

I guess there’s nuance to it, though, because I’m not sure people would have rushed out to see what could have looked like a generic slasher film (I would because I love ‘em). That’s what makes this movie special, so you have to play up to it. 

It was a tough decision, and I don’t know what the right answer to this conundrum was. 

Summary

Something baaaad happened here.

If you haven’t worked it out already, I freaking loved Abigail. It’s my kind of crap. The ensemble is varied and fun. The extreme outbursts of violence were shocking and disgusting. It’s a must-see in the horror comedy genre.

Although it may have worked better without knowing the twist at the start of the second act, I couldn’t tell you for a fact I would have rushed out to see it in ignorance of that. 

And that would have been a crack in the nuts. Nutcracker. LOOK AT ME GO!!! I FINALLY GOT A BALLET PUN IN HERE!

*ahem*

Go and see Abigail.

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Michelle Holstine
1 month ago

FINE I’ll watch it.

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