A motley crew of criminals gets more than they bargained for when the 12-year-old ballerina they kidnapped for a $50 million ransom turns out to be a bloodthirsty vampire in Abigail, the latest film from the Radio Silence trio of directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett and producer Chad Villella. With Abigail recently having its world premiere in New Orleans at the Overlook Film Festival ahead of its April 19th theatrical release via Universal Pictures, Daily Dead had the chance to talk with Matt and Tyler before the world premiere to discuss the vampire and crime film influences behind their horror heist genre mashup, filming in the historic (and potentially haunted) Glenmaroon House in Ireland, working with a star-studded ensemble, and the full-circle emotions of screening Abigail in New Orleans after shooting their first feature in the Big Easy more than a decade ago.

You can read our full interview with Tyler and Matt below, and in case you missed it, check out my event report for a recap of the immersive experiences, must-see screenings, and skin-crawling spiders at this year's Overlook Film Festival!

Congratulations on Abigail. The trailer looks amazing and definitely gave me some Ready or Not vibes with the blood and the dark humor. Going into it, how did this materialize as your next project after the Scream movies, and you got Guy Busick on board as one of the writers again for this one. How did it all come together?

Tyler Gillett: It was just post Scream 5, we had a project that we were trying to get going at Universal that just didn't end up happening. But William Sherak, who's a producer who we've now worked with on the last four movies, went to the studio and said, "What do you guys have that you want to figure out? Is there a script there sitting on your desk that you love the idea of, but you just can't quite crack how to go make it?" The studio sent him Abigail, and then we went off and made Scream 6.

But right after, it was literally weeks after we wrapped, William told us about this script and he just pitched the concept and we were in. The idea of a heist film that gets hijacked by a monster movie halfway through was just such a cool, fun concept to us. I think it was one of those things that we just saw what was iconic about it, just right from the jump. And then we brought Guy in to do a polish, a tone pass, obviously he's a friend of ours and has written a bunch of our stuff, and we were off and running.

With the cast, you have a reunion with Melissa Barrera, but you also have Kathryn Newton, Kevin Durand, Giancarlo [Esposito], and Dan [Stevens], and Alisha [Weir] as Abigail looks like a force to be reckoned with. But looking at this cast top to bottom, each one of these people could lead their own movie. What was that like just working with the "Rat Pack," as they are called in the film? That is a tremendous cast.

Tyler Gillett: We agree. I think we feel really lucky that we got all of them. The casting process was sort of beat by beat. I don't think we had a full scope of "these are the people we need." It kind of came together role by role. I think one of the things that's really special about it that hopefully you feel when you watch the movie tonight is that each of those actors brought so much to the role that wasn't necessarily on the page and kind of filled it out, which I think was really fun for us to give them that room to create the character and really own it. We joked that it's like The Breakfast Club for horror. They're great. They're all incredible and they all, in our opinion, knocked it out of the park in this movie.

Matt Bettinelli-Olpin: They all have to stand on their own. We're not fans of ensembles where it feels like there are characters that are disposable in the mix. It's really, kudos to the cast that they made their characters so damn memorable and fun.

Coming into this, because you're doing another genre mashup where you have a heist movie, but then it also turns into a vampire movie, were there any influences that you had from either one of those genres that you wanted to either pay homage to or you just had in the back of your minds?

Matt Bettinelli-Olpin: So many. We talked a lot about Fincher. We talked a lot about The Usual Suspects. We talked a lot about certainly the vampire movies we grew up on like The Lost Boys, Let the Right One In, Near Dark. Yeah, I think that just having that wide influence, it was so exciting to us to look at all of this collection of amazing films that have inspired us and then figure out how to just put all of that in a blender and make this very weird sort of singular thing that maybe doesn't seem like it will work, but when you see it work, it just feels so inevitable and so kind of obvious. That was the vibe that we got early on when we read the script.

Abigail has that tone of horror but also comedy and a lot of action, too. And with the ballerina aspect of it, there's the choreography and everything. In your previous films, there's a lot of action as well, whether it's Ready or Not or the Scream movies. Was it a fun challenge for you guys to choreograph everything with these showdowns between the criminals and Abigail?

Tyler Gillett: It's kind of what we love at the end of the day because it is like a lot of the movies we grew up on. I think there's the collision of those genres and of the action and the horror and the comedy for us, they all live together. They don't feel separate. A lot of times, the comedy happens in a moment where it was supposed to be funny, but it's not a joke. It's situational. One of the fun things when we screened the movie with a crowd for the first time was how well a lot of the humor played. I think a lot of that has to do with the characters being under such pressure. A little bit goes a long way.

Matt Bettinelli-Olpin: People want to laugh because it's tense. If you pulled things as taut as they can be, then people are just ready to respond. But I think really specific to the action, I think one of the things that was really a fun challenge was just making sure, and this goes for the dialogue, really every scene, but the action specifically, we really held our feet to the fire, wanting to make sure that the sequences feel like they could only exist in this movie, that we're certainly borrowing from the things that we love in a handful of ways, but that when you watch this movie, it feels like a very singular experience and the scenes can only exist in this specific movie with this specific cast of characters. We really took pains to make sure that everything feels like it belongs and it deserves to be there.

I love the setting, too, the Glenmaroon House that you filmed at in Ireland. That's like a character itself, and they're trapped in there. Was that a cool experience to film in such a historic place? Did they give you a lot of freedom to maybe not get it too bloody but get a little grimy with it?

Tyler Gillett: It's funny because the place that we shot Ready or Not, which is also a big manor, well, it was two big manors, we couldn't touch anything, and everything was very like, "This was not bad." This was very rundown when we got there. Our production designer made it incredible, made it look like it looks in the movie. It looked awesome. When we left, they had to take it all down and it went back to this dilapidated state. But to answer your question, it was extremely fun. It was creepy. We'd walk around it and find new corridors and new crawlspaces.

Matt Bettinelli-Olpin: Yeah, it's such a maze.

Tyler Gillett: Yeah. But it really informed a lot of the action and a lot of the story because the story existed, and then we found that place, and then we sort of reworked the story to fit that location.

Matt Bettinelli-Olpin: It was the first character we cast. We scouted months before we were boots on the ground out there. It just was obvious that that had to be the place.

It's cool that you could build it around it, too, and really come up with things, and hopefully it was not too haunted, either.

Matt Bettinelli-Olpin: Yeah, there were some vibes there.

Tyler Gillett: It has a history, that house.

What's it been like to bring Abigail to Overlook, to such a historic city? It just feels like a perfect pairing for you guys to bring it out here.

Matt Bettinelli-Olpin: We could not be more excited. We made our first feature out here in New Orleans 11 years ago, and to be back here with this movie, it feels like a real full circle experience. We were a little misty walking around yesterday, remembering the production of that movie. This is just such a cool mile marker and how far we've come in the genre. And again, we made this movie for this audience, a loud, excited, genre audience. We just can't wait. You guys have to experience it.

Tyler Gillett: Yeah. Not for nothing but Anne Rice and the vampire lore, it just feels right.

Matt Bettinelli-Olpin: It just feels right, yeah.

Before I let you guys go, in addition to Abigail coming out soon, do you have any other upcoming projects that you can talk about?

Tyler Gillett: Nothing we can really talk about, but mostly because we're just on the hunt right now. We're looking for that next thing.


"Children can be such monsters.

After a group of would-be criminals kidnap the 12-year-old ballerina daughter of a powerful underworld figure, all they have to do to collect a $50 million ransom is watch the girl overnight. In an isolated mansion, the captors start to dwindle, one by one, and they discover, to their mounting horror, that they’re locked inside with no normal little girl.

From Radio Silence—the directing team of Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett behind the terrifying modern horror hits Ready or Not, 2022’s Scream and last year’s Scream VI—comes a brash, blood-thirsty new vision of the vampire flick, written by Stephen Shields (The Hole in the Ground, Zombie Bashers) and Guy Busick (Scream franchise, Ready or Not).

Abigail stars Melissa Barrera (Scream franchise, In the Heights), Dan Stevens (Gaslit, Legion), Kathryn Newton (Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, Freaky), William Catlett (Black Lightning, True Story), Kevin Durand (Resident Evil: Retribution, X-Men Origins: Wolverine) and Angus Cloud (Euphoria, North Hollywood) as the kidnappers and Alisha Weir (Roald Dahl’s Matilda the Musical, Darklands) as Abigail.

The film produced by William Sherak (Scream franchise, Ready or Not), Paul Neinstein (Scream franchise; executive producer, The Night Agent) and James Vanderbilt (Zodiac, Scream franchise) for Project X Entertainment, by Tripp Vinson (Ready or Not, Journey 2: The Mysterious Island) and by Radio Silence’s Chad Vilella (executive producer Ready or Not and Scream franchise). The executive producers are Ron Lynch and Macdara Kelleher."

  • Derek Anderson
    About the Author - Derek Anderson

    Raised on a steady diet of R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps books and Are You Afraid of the Dark?, Derek has been fascinated with fear since he first saw ForeverWare being used on an episode of Eerie, Indiana.

    When he’s not writing about horror as the Senior News Reporter for Daily Dead, Derek can be found daydreaming about the Santa Carla Boardwalk from The Lost Boys or reading Stephen King and Brian Keene novels.