Just as audiences may have finally finished cleaning off the blood splatter from Ready or Not and the two most recent Scream films, directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett (who, along with producer Chad Villella, are collectively known as Radio Silence) have returned to the big screen with Abigail. And staying true to what horror fans have come to expect from their previous efforts, Abigail is a high-octane, high-energy horror film that pulls no punches or fangs, making for another scary good time at the cinema (and in my case, the film’s world premiere screening at the Overlook Film Festival).

After kidnapping a 12-year-old ballerina (Alisha Weir) from her wealthy father’s estate, a group of mysterious criminals heads to a secluded safehouse for the night. Intentionally anonymous to each other and hired by the enigmatic Lambert (Giancarlo Esposito), the kidnappers are each given an alias based on members of the Rat Pack: there’s former Army medic Joey (Melissa Barrera), the temperamental Frank (Dan Stevens), the tech-savvy Sammy (Kathryn Newton), the wheelman Dean (Angus Cloud), the sniper expert Rickles (William Catlett), and the muscular Peter (Kevin Durand).

With the most dangerous part of their mission seemingly in the rearview mirror, this motley crew of criminals settles in at the safehouse’s massive mahogany bar and luxurious bedrooms to wait out a 24-hour window that hopefully ends with a $50 million payday from Abigail’s father. The only problem? Abigail is actually a vampire, and the safehouse turns out to be not so safe when the Rat Pack become trapped within its walls, unable to leave and forced to fight back against their fanged adversary as the body count rises and the walls become redecorated with their own blood.

A horror-heist mashup that delivers in spades for both genres, Abigail pulses with undead life from its first frame and never lets up—the relentless screenplay and foreboding score by Brian Tyler working in tandem to create a sense of eerie urgency as the kidnappers try to survive the night with their would-be hostage. Written by Stephen Shields and frequent Radio Silence collaborator Guy Busick, the screenplay smartly builds its characters up before ripping them apart, giving each character a reason—some more desperate than others—to take on such a high-stakes mission in the first place. Even though they have committed a serious misdeed, there’s a relatable empathy to these characters, especially Melissa Barrera as a former Army medic and recovering drug addict who just wants to be reunited with her son. Following her strong performances as Sam Carpenter in Radio Silence’s Scream (2022) and Scream VI, Barrera reteams with the directors to superbly bring another complex leading role to life in Abigail, including an epic showdown that is a masterful dance of fight choreography, ferocious fangs, and blood… lots and lots of blood.

Each of the actors in Abigail has the talent to lead their own movie, but it’s so fun watching them work together here to bring out the best in each other (and sometimes the worst in their characters), whether they’re debating the best ways to kill a vampire or just trying to cope with their increasingly absurd—and very sinister—situation. In true Radio Silence fashion, there is a lot of comedy intertwined with the film’s more macabre moments, but the laughs come naturally without ever sacrificing the high stakes and real sense of danger for these characters, who might be cracking jokes one minute before literally losing their head the next, making for “splatstick” comedy that always serves the story and deftly dances the line between humor and full-on horror. And while the members of this Rat Pack ensemble are all fantastic to watch (in particular Dan Stevens, who also delivers a gleefully demented performance in Tilman Singer’s Cuckoo), perhaps most impressive is Alisha Weir as Abigail, who sinks her teeth into her vampiric role with gleeful abandon, literally dancing circles around her would-be kidnappers like a mischievous cat playing with her food, utilizing her knowledge of the safehouse, her amazing ballet skills, and her bloodthirsty abilities to turn her overconfident captors into desperate captives.

Largely filmed in the historic Glenmaroon House in Ireland and decked out in elegant Clue mansion fashion by production designer Susie Cullen, the safehouse in Abigail is a character itself, and cinematographer Aaron Morton takes full advantage of the house’s ominous shadows and imposingly beautiful architecture to bring tension and style to every scene. As the film goes on, we come to realize that this murder mystery mansion is a vampire’s playground, and there’s something much worse waiting in the library for Colonel Mustard than a candlestick.

A special shoutout is also in order to the movie’s makeup department (including Dominic Mombru for the dental prosthetics and Matthew Smith as the film’s prosthetics designer) for bringing Abigail’s vampiric side to undead life in a genuinely frightening way. With dilated eyes reminiscent of the bloodsuckers in 30 Days of Night and rows of sharp incisors that bring Fright Night to mind (although these teeth are not as large as Amy’s iconic vampire “shark mouth”), Abigail’s vampiric visage is pure nightmare fuel—especially when she’s dancing after her human prey.

While it may spin its crimson-soaked wheels a bit in the third act (aside from a special surprise that should delight longtime vampire fans) and features maybe one or two too many double crossings (there are enough allegiances swapped to satisfy several movies), Abigail is overall another blood-filled blast from the Radio Silence team, proving that when it comes to blending horror, comedy, and over-the-top action, they’re masters of their craft… fangs and all.

Movie Score: 4/5

  • 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.