ABIGAIL Arrives as an All-Time Vampire Classic

Radio Silence’s latest is also their best, and so much more.

Stills courtesy of Universal Pictures.

Sometimes a film has a high-level premise that’s so good that you’re almost surprised it hasn’t been done a dozen times already. It could be a genre exercise, or just an elevator pitch that succinctly captures something primal and immediately gripping out of a story you never realized you had to see. Such is the premise of Abigail, the new film from horror collective Radio Silence: a group of criminals are hired to kidnap a girl, only to realize that girl is in fact a vampire.

That’s a killer hook–but what is most surprising is that Abigail, originally pitched as a reimagining of the 1936 Universal horror film Dracula’s Daughter, somehow exceeds that premise to be something truly special. Radio Silence broke wide with their surprise hit Ready or Not in 2019, which mixed humor, gore, and lush scenery to create a unique experience. After Radio Silence helmed the last two Scream entries, Abigail serves as a spiritual sequel to Ready or Not, refining what made that movie so exciting, down to the locked haunted house premise. As a result, Abigail is not only Radio Silence’s most fully realized and successful film to date, but an immediate classic of the vampire genre, breathing fresh air into one of horror’s oldest genres.

The story of Abigail unfolds patiently: a group of criminals, all strangers to each other, are recruited to kidnap the titular target (played by Alisha Weir) by the mysterious Lambert (Giancarlo Esposito). Given nicknames to align with various members of the Rat Pack, there is bagman Frank (Dan Stevens), medic and logistics expert Joey (Melissa Barerra, reuniting with Radio Silence after their two Scream films), burnout wheelman Dean (Angus Cloud, in a posthumous appearance), cool girl hacker Sammy (Kathryn Newton), French-Canadian muscle Peter (Kevin Durand), and sniper Rickles (William Catlett). As the crooks slowly pick apart their real identities, strange deaths occur and cause accusations to fly freely. For a second, it seems like the film is being coy about its ultimate reveal–but once Abigail’s vampiric nature is revealed, the acceleration kicks off in earnest.

One of the great strengths of Abigail is how it uses its ensemble, with each performance being multi-faceted and well-observed. In many ways, the crooks all fall into very familiar archetypes. However, they aren’t thinly-rendered sketches, but living, breathing characters thrown into a wild and impossible scenario. Their distinct personalities are further revealed in how they react to the circumstances around them, with razor-sharp dialogue and clever set pieces giving the cast plenty to sink their teeth into as the madness unfolds.

And what gleeful madness it is. Just like Ready Or Not, Abigail’s pacing is breakneck once it gets going. It’s a goopy good time that relishes in its gothic surroundings and finding which vampire myths to incorporate or reject. A love for other vamp classics is evident throughout, with nods to everything from the original Dracula to Near Dark poking their influence throughout. Ultimately, the vibe is unquestionably unique to Radio Silence’s brand of horror, never too afraid to remember to keep it fun throughout. The beauty of Abigail is when it intermixes the human element alongside the fantastic, never afraid to wear its heart on its sleeve…before allowing that heart to spew blood everywhere.

Abigail hits theaters on April 19th courtesy of Universal Pictures.

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