Abigail is a bloody fun spin on vampire horrors

melissa barrera as joey covered in blood in abigail movie
Abigail is one of the year's bloodiest moviesBernard Walsh/Universal Pictures

As disappointing as it is that Radio Silence Productions – Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, Tyler Gillett and Chad Villella – won't get to complete their Scream trilogy, movies like Abigail will soften the blow for horror fans.

In their first original horror movie since 2019's Ready or Not, Radio Silence turn their self-aware lens onto the vampire genre in Abigail, delivering the bloodiest movie of 2024 and one of the year's most bloody entertaining horrors too.

It's almost a shame that the first trailer revealed the killer twist as the movie is in no rush to get to it. On the off chance that you don't know though, we'd probably recommend you stop reading here (bookmark this to read later, of course) and just go along for the ride.

All you really need to know is that if you enjoyed their previous work, including their segments for the V/H/S movies, then Abigail delivers their usual blend of meta gags, gore-soaked set pieces and surprises that subvert classic tropes.

melissa barrera, abigail

Still here? Then we'll assume you've seen the trailer. Abigail starts with a group of bad eggs, brought together by Lambert (Giancarlo Esposito), kidnapping the titular 12-year-old girl (Matilda the Musical's Alisha Weir) from her home after ballet practice.

They take her to an isolated mansion as arranged by Lambert, and all they need to do is spend 24 hours there to collect a $50 million ransom from the girl's father. Simple: until one of them turns up decapitated.

Because Abigail is no ordinary girl – she's a vampire. Or, more specifically, she's a "ballerina vampire" as Sammy (Kathryn Newton) puts it.

Before the blood starts to liberally flow though, the writers (Stephen Shields – who co-wrote 2019 horror standout The Hole in the Ground – and regular Radio Silence collaborator Guy Busick) take their time establishing the criminal gang.

angus cloud, kathryn newton, alisha weir, kevin durand, dan stevens, melissa barrera, will catlett, abigail

The dynamics are efficiently outlined shortly after they lock up Abigail in her temporary home. Joey (Melissa Barrera) is our de facto 'hero' as she's there to basically stop the others from hurting Abigail, while Frank (Dan Stevens) is the main 'villain' as he's a dirtbag who will do anything to get the money.

In the middle are hacker Sammy, ex-army guy Rickles (William Catlett), stoner driver Dean (the late Angus Cloud) and the muscle Peter (Kevin Durand). None of them are good people, exactly, but it's such a talented cast that you're fooled into thinking you might want to hang out with them for one night – even if they might steal your wallet at the end of it.

If you already know who Abigail really is, though, the attempts to build tension and mystery fall a bit flat. You're really just waiting for the bloodshed to start and with the first act out of the way, Radio Silence duly deliver.

We've known from Ready or Not that the filmmakers love to explode a body, and they take that to another level here with terrific practical effects. The movie is so drenched in blood that you'll swear the cinema carpet is squelching on your way out.

melissa barrera as joey covered in blood in abigail movie
Bernard Walsh/Universal Pictures

Like Ready or Not and their Scream outings, Radio Silence are less interested in scaring the shit out of you and more in ensuring you have a great time. There are jump scares early on, but this is more of a crowdpleasing horror outing that messes with the genre in the same way that Abigail likes to play with her food.

Alongside pop-culture references and self-aware gags, Abigail puts a unique spin on expected vampire-movie tropes. When she reveals herself, the movie sets out its stall with a standout sequence that sees stakes, garlic and a cross not exactly performing as expected.

Key to it all is an excellent performance from Alisha Weir. She proves as convincing when Abigail is pretending to be a scared 12-year-old as she is when Abigail is gracefully ripping her prey apart, and Weir's quick turns in demeanour and tone are when the movie is at its most chilling.

It's not easy to add a unique twist to the pantheon of iconic on-screen vampires, but Abigail is a memorable creation who's brought to life brilliantly by Weir.

alisha weir, abigail

Thanks to the seemingly spoileriffic trailer, you also might think you know exactly where this tale is heading. Fear not though, there are still surprises to be had and twists to be revealed as the story never quite pans out as you'd expect.

There will absolutely be scarier horror movies this year, but come the end of the year, there's every chance Abigail will prove to be the most enjoyable.

4 stars
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Abigail is out now in cinemas.

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