If there is anything Radio Silence (directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett) knows what to do, it’s creating a contained and zany horror film within a simplistic premise. It will be gory and also a lot of fun to be had. You might notice spiritual similarities if you are a fan of 2019’s ‘Ready or Not’. Yes, there is an ancient, sprawling mansion all the main characters go to. Oh, and don’t forget the supernatural element that attaches itself to the main problem, and a race against time to solve it. Instead of having a post-wedding celebration from hell where the bride has to fight her way out of being a sacrifice, Abigail twists up the 1936 Universal monster movie ‘Dracula’s Daughter’ and takes Rorschach from ‘Watchmen’s words, “I’m not locked in here with you, you’re locked in here with me” in the literal sense. 

Writers Stephen Shields and Guy Busick seek to balance the script with characters that all play a particular role while trying to highlight a plight that audiences can latch onto as a common denominator. But they also know what you came for: the quips, the wisecracks, and the excess, sometimes exploding amounts of blood. That can be a tricky balance to walk, especially if you’ve previously touched on this type of story. That said, enough difference and self-awareness exist what Abigail that leans into the ridiculousness of essentially what ‘Undead Home Alone’ is.

Photo Credit: Universal Pictures

The beginning of ‘Abigail’ presents two contrasting points of view that will soon be on a collision course of mayhem.12-year-old Abigail (Alisha Weir) dances ballet alone in an empty theater to Tchaikovsky’s ‘Swan Lake” (if you are privy to 1931’s Dracula at all, you’ll understand why this is a recurring theme). While this is occurring, a group of people all decked out in black are on a mission to kidnap her. What’s the prize? As told by their boss Lambert (Giancarlo Esposito), a $50 million price is at stake for a group that has been instructed not to use their real identities. We have six people; “Frank” (Dan Stevens), “Sammy” (Kathryn Newton), “Dean” (Angus Cloud), “Peter” (Kevin Durand), “Joey,” (Melissa Barrera), and “Don Rickles” (Will Catlett) looking to split the pie and ride off into the sunset. All they have to do is go to a remote location, confine Abigail to a bedroom, and wait 24 hours until they get the money (and somewhat trust one another in the process). 

Sounds simple. The group helps themselves to the extensive bar and tries to find out each other’s histories (through a clever plotting device, the audience finds out each character’s specialty). But nothing is ever that easy, and they soon discover that Abigail’s father is a ruthless crimelord with a sprawling empire. That’s enough to try to temporarily throw the viewer off the scent that Abigail herself is an actual vampire who happens to be highly thirsty for blood with a sudden huge supply. Right from that point, you know you’re getting a film where this supernatural being is looking to hunt down person to person until they find a way to fight back. There’s a play on vampire lore and some jokes trying to figure out what type of fanged creature Abigail is (True Blood? Twilight?). It’s all the players themselves that make this film as enjoyable as it can be. Angus Cloud’s last performance brings many laughs and Steven’s twist on trying to be the pack leader. Barrera brings the hardened flavor she exhibited in the ‘Scream’ franchise and serves as the story’s emotional bridge. One of the best acting plays is Alisha Weir’s portrayal of the title character. She knows how to portray a vulnerability that sometimes lulls the group to sleep and then turns on a sense of carnage when she transforms. 

Abigail’s silliness is its superpower, and indulges in it enough for you to take it in and enjoy.

Given the idea of what this film was born from, it is an attempted dramatic element that tries to show itself. It doesn’t connect as well as it should because when you look at the totality of ‘Abigail,’ you’re not supposed to take it seriously. The film doesn’t wrap up all of those themes as neatly as it could. The dark humor and exploding limbs’ mayhem of it all are the selling point of this adaptation. Abigail’s silliness is its superpower, and indulges in it enough for you to take it in and enjoy. It turns out that seeing a pre-teen vampire that does ballet dances in between mauling down an unsuspecting rat pack can just be enough. 

Photo Credit: Universal Pictures

Abigail is playing in theaters now.