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Abigail (2024 film)

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Abigail
An overhead view of a young girl in white ballerina outfit, the dress is soaked in blood.
Theatrical release poster
Directed by
Written by
Produced by
Starring
CinematographyAaron Morton
Edited byMichael P. Shawver[1]
Music byBrian Tyler
Production
companies
Distributed byUniversal Pictures
Release dates
Running time
109 minutes[2]
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$28 million[3]
Box office$42.1 million[4][5]

Abigail is a 2024 American horror comedy film directed by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett, and written by Stephen Shields and Guy Busick. It stars Alisha Weir as the titular character alongside Melissa Barrera, Dan Stevens, Kathryn Newton, Will Catlett, Kevin Durand, Angus Cloud, and Giancarlo Esposito. The film follows a group of kidnappers who capture the titular daughter of a powerful underworld figure and demand $50 million for her release, unaware of something sinister.

The film was announced to be in development in April 2023, with Bettinelli-Olpin and Gillett attached as directors, and Shields and Busick hired to write the screenplay. It was also announced that the film would be a co-production between Bettinelli-Olpin, Gillett, and Chad Villella's Radio Silence Productions, James Vanderbilt, Paul Neinstein, and William Sherak's Project X Entertainment, and Tripp Vinson's Vinson Films.

Abigail had its world premiere at the Overlook Film Festival on April 7, 2024, and was theatrically released in the United States by Universal Pictures on April 19. The film received generally positive reviews from critics and has grossed over $42 million worldwide.

Plot[edit]

In New York City, young ballet dancer Abigail is abducted by six criminals and brought to the secluded Wilhelm Manor. Before leaving, their leader Lambert instructs them to guard Abigail for 24 hours, at which point they will receive an equal share of a $50 million ransom paid by her father. Using fake names to avoid any member from identifying the others, the group consists of former Army medic and recovering drug addict Joey, former NYPD detective Frank, thrill-seeking hacker Sammy, former Marine sniper Rickles, dimwitted mob enforcer Peter, and sociopathic driver Dean.

Though reluctant to continue with the plan as she was unaware the target was a child, Joey is tasked with managing Abigail. Joey is sympathetic to her, sharing that she has a son and promising to protect Abigail from harm. Abigail admits her father does not care about her and will not pay the ransom, before apologizing for what is going to happen to Joey. Perturbed by Abigail's words, Frank violently confronts her, learning that her father is Kristof Lazaar, a powerful, almost mythical crime lord.

After unsuccessfully flirting with Sammy, Dean enters the basement where he is attacked by an unseen assailant. Investigating his screams, Sammy finds Dean's decapitated corpse. The group realize that Lazaar's legendarily violent enforcer Valdez must be inside the house and try to leave but the home's security system seals the property, preventing escape. While looking for a way out, Rickles is mutilated and killed. The group confronts Abigail for information but she transforms into a vampire, revealing she is Valdez. Frank shoots Abigail but her injuries instantly heal and the group flees.

Frank, Sammy, and Peter return and ineffectively attack Abigail with tropes of vampiric lore such as garlic and crucifixes, and her strength and speed allow her to easily overwhelm and prevent them from stabbing her through the heart with wooden stakes. Joey successfully incapacitates Abigail with a tranquilizer and the team imprison her, though not before she bites Sammy. Upon awakening, the centuries-old Abigail reveals that she knows the group's true identities and arranged for them to abduct her, through Lambert, so she can kill them for wronging her father. Joey deduces that Abigail has killed dozens of her father's enemies in a failed effort to earn her father's love.

Abigail effortlessly escapes her confines and attacks Frank, but Joey rips wooden planks off a window to expose Abigail to sunlight, which severely wounds her. With only hours before sunset, the group splits up to find an escape route, but Sammy is transformed into a vampire thrall under Abigail's control and kills Peter. Abigail has Sammy attack Frank and Joey, forcing Joey to destroy Sammy with reflected sunlight.

Lambert lures Frank and Joey to the hidden security room, where he reveals Abigail turned him into a vampire years earlier for helping Frank avoid Lazaar's wrath. Frank allows Lambert to turn him into a vampire so they can work together to kill Abigail and Lazaar, but following his transformation, Frank kills Lambert for leading him into Abigail's trap. Abigail attacks Frank, but he overpowers her and drains her blood, leaving her weakened. Cornered, Joey leaves a phone message for her son, apologizing for having been absent from his life for many years. Reveling in his power, Frank bites Joey, intending to turn her into his thrall and force her to kill Abigail and eventually her own son. However, Joey's enthrallment fails due to Frank's inexperience with his new abilities, and she and Abigail team up to kill him.

With Joey's infection broken by Frank's death, Abigail encourages her to leave and be present in her son's life, but Lazaar arrives and threatens Joey.[a] Abigail defends Joey for being present when she needed her while Lazaar was not. Although Lazaar angrily rebuts her, he relents for Abigail's sake and allows the bloodied and battered Joey to leave.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

Development[edit]

In April 2023, it was reported that Radio Silence Productions was developing a monster thriller film for Universal Pictures, with Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett attached to direct, with Chad Villella serving as producer alongside William Sherak, Paul Neinstein and James Vanderbilt at Project X Entertainment, while Stephen Shields and Guy Busick would write the screenplay. The project was stated to be a modern-day adaptation of one of the Universal Classic Monsters characters similar in approach to The Invisible Man (2020) or Renfield (2023), with the synopsis being described as "a unique take on legendary monster lore and will represent a fresh, new direction for how to celebrate classic characters". Originally intended to be Bettinelli-Olpin and Gillett's next project following the release of the fifth Scream installment, the duo delayed its realization until after Scream VI.[14]

The project was originally titled Dracula's Daughter, the same name as the 1936 film upon which it is based;[10] with Universal restating that while they had considered a singular continuity with The Mummy (2017), each release will continue to be "rooted in the horror genre, with no restrictions on budget, rating or genre. They are not part of a shared interconnected universe, which allows each film to stand on its own. This new direction is filmmaker-driven, inviting innovative filmmakers with original, bold ideas for these characters to develop the stories and pitch them."[7][10][9][12] The film was officially titled Abigail in January 2024.[15]

Casting[edit]

In April 2023, Melissa Barrera was cast for one of the main roles of the film after previously appearing in the filmmaking duo's Scream films.[7] The following month, Dan Stevens, Kevin Durand, Alisha Weir, Kathryn Newton, Angus Cloud, and Will Catlett joined the cast.[9][12][10][11] In June 2023, it was announced that Giancarlo Esposito was cast in a supporting role.[13] Weir, known for her role as Matilda Wormwood in the 2022 Netflix musical film, was later revealed to be playing Dracula's daughter.[16]

Filming[edit]

Principal photography began May 15, 2023 in Dublin, Ireland, but was suspended July 14th due to the 2023 SAG-AFTRA strike. After the strike ended, filming resumed November 23rd and wrapped December 14th.[17] Aaron Morton served as the cinematographer.[18] Cloud finished filming his scenes prior to his death on July 31, 2023.[19] Weir learned ballet for her role, incorporating it into her character's movements, and performed her own stunts.[20] Filming wrapped on December 15 of the same year.[21] In the film, there are two easter eggs that connect to other Radio Silence movies, one is a portrait of the character Tony Le Domas from Radio Silence's Fox Searchlight Pictures film Ready or Not (2019) displayed in the mansion and for the other, Larry Fessenden reprises his voice over roll as "The DJ" from their 2015 film Southbound.[22][23][24]

Music[edit]

Brian Tyler composed the film's score; he collaborated with Bettinelli-Olpin and Gillett on prior projects.[25] The directors commissioned Jean Dawson for an original song, "Burn My Tongue", which plays over the closing credits.[26][27] The soundtrack album, featuring Tyler's score and "Burn My Tongue", was released on April 19.[27]

Soundtrack[edit]

No.TitleWriter(s)Producer(s)Length
1."Tchaikovsky: I. Scene – Swan Theme (Swan Lake Suite) OP.20a" (performed by Berliner Philharmoniker)
  • Pytor Tchaikovsky
Cord Garben 3:03
2."Glamorous Lifestyle" (performed by The Jacka feat. Andre Nickatina)
  • Andre Adams, Sultan Banks, Dominick Newton
Traxamillion3:57
3."Goodbye, Good Luck, God Bless You" (performed by Buck Owens and the Buckaroos)
  • Buck Owens
Ken Nelson2:16
4."Anyhow, I Love You" (performed by Guy Clark feat. Waylon Jennings & Emmylou Harris)
  • Guy Clark
Neil Wilburn3:55
5."Smokestack Lightnin’" (performed by Howlin’ Wolf)
  • Chester Burnett
Leonard Chess, Phil Chess & Willie Dixon3:08
6."Blood and Tears" (performed by Danzig)
  • Glenn Danzig
Rick Rubin4:20
7."Burn My Tongue" (performed by Jean Dawson)
  • Jean Dawson
Jean Dawson, Hoskins, Biako, & Johnny May3:07
Total length:23:36

Release[edit]

Abigail had its world premiere at the Overlook Film Festival on April 7, 2024,[28] and was released by Universal Pictures in the United States on April 19, 2024.[11] The film was released on premium video on demand by Universal Pictures Home Entertainment on May 7, 2024.[29]

Reception[edit]

Box office[edit]

As of May 30, 2024, Abigail has grossed $25.9 million in the United States and Canada and $16.2 million in other territories, currently has made a total of $42.1 million.[4]

In the United States and Canada, Abigail was released alongside The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare and Spy × Family Code: White, and was projected to gross $12–15 million from 3,384 theaters in its opening weekend.[3] The film made $4 million on its first day, including $1 million from Thursday night previews. It went on to debut to $10.2 million, finishing second at the box office behind holdover Civil War.[30] The film then made $5.2 million (a drop of 49.5%) and $2.3 million in its second and third weekends, respectively, finishing in fifth, and then ninth.[31][32]

Critical response[edit]

On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, 82% of 205 critics' reviews are positive, with an average rating of 6.8/10. The website's consensus reads: "Carrying off well-worn vampire tropes with a balletic flourish, Abigail dances around the familiarity of its premise with a game cast and slick style."[33] Metacritic, which uses a weighted average, assigned the film a score of 62 out of 100, based on 38 critics, indicating "generally favorable" reviews.[34] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B" on an A+ to F scale.[30]

BJ Colangelo wrote in Slashfilm that "With a pitch-perfect ensemble cast, exquisitely timed laugh-out-loud moments of humor, a barrage of twists (or should I say pirouettes?), an unbelievable amount of blood, killer action set pieces, and a downright transcendent performance by one of the best child actors in the game — Abigail sets the bar as the most fun you can have with a horror movie of the year. In other words, Abigail is horror on pointe... Traditionally, films that are this delightfully raucous, bloody (and I mean BLOODY), and silly are relegated to B-movie schlock (not a bad thing, for the record), but Abigail still embraces the excessive and ornate gothic aesthetics of classic horror movies. The result is an old-school vampire movie with modern frisk and flair and an absolute blast of a movie to watch with a crowd. I'm sure there will be plenty who think I'm overhyping the film or exaggerating how good it is, but I honestly wouldn't change a thing. Abigail is a perfect horror movie and already one of the best films of 2024. I pinky promise."[35]

Manohla Dargis wrote in The New York Times that "Abigail has been described as a take on Dracula's Daughter (1936), one of the horror films in Universal's vault, some of which it has resurrected in some fashion. The press notes for Abigail name-check a few vampire titles, but Daughter isn't among them, and for good reason because there's little to link these two. That's too bad; the earlier film is a true curiosity. It stars Gloria Holden as a countess who preys on men and women alike, and begs a doctor to help her with her 'ghastly' condition. With its lesbian overtones, the movie is a vexed and tasty text — censors urged the studio to avoid suggestions of 'perverse sexual desire' — and the countess a complex villain in a film that is very much worth a look."[36]

David Fear of Rolling Stone wrote, "It's a gas, watching this ensemble bouncing off each other when the shit goes down and navigating the obstacle course that Bettinelli-Olpin and Gillett have set for them in the film's chaotic, mondo bloody back half. (We weren't joking about that whole exploding body thing.) Stevens has previously shown a knack for playing complicated douchebags, and that talent becomes refined here. Weir, who's a bit of a find in terms of playing a centuries-old fiend in the body of a tween, puts a sickly, sharp spin on a lot of her juicier lines. Cloud (R.I.P.) and Durand finds different ways of showcasing the dim-wittery of their characters, Newton once again reminds you that she's a first-rate pickpocket when it comes to stealing scenes, and Barrera steps into the role as steely scream queen extraordinaire in a way that makes you hope she really does have a long career in front of her instead of an aborted one already behind her."[37]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Lazaar suggests he has had many different names over many centuries, implying Lazaar is a contemporary name for Dracula.[6]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Abigal Production Information". Universal Pictures. Getty Images. Archived from the original on May 11, 2024. Retrieved March 12, 2024.
  2. ^ "Abigail (18)". BBFC. April 4, 2024. Archived from the original on April 10, 2024. Retrieved April 4, 2024.
  3. ^ a b Rubin, Rebecca (April 17, 2024). "Box Office: Dracula's Daughter 'Abigail' Tries to Take a Bite Out of 'Civil War' With $12 Million Debut". Variety. Archived from the original on April 17, 2024. Retrieved April 17, 2024.
  4. ^ a b "Abigail – Financial Information". The Numbers. Archived from the original on April 23, 2024. Retrieved May 31, 2024.
  5. ^ "Abigail (2024)". Box Office Mojo. IMDb. Retrieved May 31, 2024.
  6. ^ a b Vary, Adam B. (April 20, 2024). "Abigail Filmmakers Explain the Bloody Ending, Possible Sequel and Why the [SPOILER] Scene Was Trimmed Down". Variety. Archived from the original on May 3, 2024. Retrieved March 8, 2024.
  7. ^ a b c Kroll, Justin (April 13, 2023). "'Scream' Star Melissa Barrera Reunites With Radio Silence On Secret Monster Movie For Universal". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on April 13, 2023. Retrieved April 13, 2023.
  8. ^ a b c d e f Ebiri, Bilge (April 19, 2024). "What If We Didn't Know Abigail Was a Vampire Movie?". Vulture. Archived from the original on May 20, 2024. Retrieved May 25, 2024.
  9. ^ a b c Kroll, Justin (May 11, 2023). "Dan Stevens Joins Radio Silence's Secret Monster Movie At Universal". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on May 11, 2023. Retrieved May 11, 2023.
  10. ^ a b c d Kit, Borys (May 9, 2023). "Matilda: The Musical Star Alisha Weir Joins Melissa Barrera in Untitled Monster Movie From Scream VI Filmmakers (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on January 12, 2024. Retrieved January 12, 2024.
  11. ^ a b c D'Alessandro, Anthony (May 12, 2023). "Radio Silence Universal Monster Thriller Adds Angus Cloud, Kathryn Newton & Will Catlett; Sets Spring 2024 Release". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on May 12, 2023. Retrieved May 12, 2023.
  12. ^ a b c Grobar, Matt (May 12, 2023). "Kevin Durand Joins Radio Silence's Monster Thriller For Universal". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on May 12, 2023. Retrieved May 12, 2023.
  13. ^ a b Kroll, Justin (June 14, 2023). "Giancarlo Esposito Joins Radio Silence's Secret Monster Movie At Universal". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on June 14, 2023. Retrieved June 14, 2023.
  14. ^ Kroll, Justin (April 11, 2023). "'Scream' Filmmaking Team Radio Silence Reunites With Project X On Untitled Monster Movie At Universal". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on April 11, 2023. Retrieved April 11, 2023.
  15. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (January 11, 2024). "Universal's Melissa Barrera & Angus Cloud Monster Thriller From Radio Silence Gets Title & Trailer". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Media Corporation. Archived from the original on January 11, 2024. Retrieved January 11, 2024.
  16. ^ Couch, Aaron (January 11, 2024). "Monster Movie from 'Scream' Directors Gets Title, Trailer". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on January 11, 2024. Retrieved January 11, 2024. Sources previously told The Hollywood Reporter that the child is the daughter of Dracula.
  17. ^ "Abigail". Radio Silence Official Website. May 2, 2024. {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |url= (help)
  18. ^ "Aaron Morton Resume" (PDF). Murtha Skouras Agency. Archived (PDF) from the original on January 29, 2024. Retrieved January 29, 2024.
  19. ^ Vlessing, Etan (August 1, 2023). "Angus Cloud Completed Filming on Two Upcoming Films". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on August 1, 2023. Retrieved August 1, 2023.
  20. ^ Barter, Pavel (April 28, 2024). "Matilda star Alisha Weir: I'm back at school, I want to do my Junior Cert". The Sunday Times. ISSN 0140-0460. Archived from the original on April 28, 2024. Retrieved May 13, 2024.
  21. ^ Echebiri, Makuochi (December 18, 2023). "Universal Monster Thriller From Radio Silence Wraps Filming". Collider. Archived from the original on December 23, 2023. Retrieved December 18, 2023.
  22. ^ Squires, John (April 23, 2024). "Do 'Ready or Not' and 'Abigail' Take Place in the Same Universe? Did You Spot This Connection?". Bloody Disgusting!. Archived from the original on April 23, 2024. Retrieved April 23, 2024.
  23. ^ Squires, John (April 23, 2024). "Do 'Ready or Not' and 'Abigail' Take Place in the Same Universe? Did You Spot This Connection?". Bloody Disgusting!. Archived from the original on April 23, 2024. Retrieved April 23, 2024.
  24. ^ Weiss, Josh (April 23, 2024). "Did You Catch Radio Silence's Sneaky Ready or Not Easter Egg in Abigail". SyFy. Archived from the original on April 23, 2024. Retrieved April 23, 2024.
  25. ^ "Brian Tyler to Reteam with Matt Bettinelli-Olpin & Tyler Gillett on Abigail". Film Music Reporter. January 11, 2024. Archived from the original on January 12, 2024. Retrieved January 12, 2024.
  26. ^ Shaw-Williams, Hannah (April 5, 2024). "Abigail Directors Tease a Brain-Melting Soundtrack and Jean Dawson's End Credits Song". /Film. Archived from the original on April 19, 2024. Retrieved April 20, 2024.
  27. ^ a b "Abigail Soundtrack Album Details". Film Music Reporter. April 18, 2024. Archived from the original on April 19, 2024. Retrieved April 20, 2024.
  28. ^ Grobar, Matt (March 6, 2024). "Universal Vampire Flick Abigail Set To Close Out Overlook Film Festival – View Full Lineup". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on April 14, 2024. Retrieved March 13, 2024.
  29. ^ Squires, John (May 6, 2024). "Abigail Comes Home to Premium VOD This Week!". Bloody Disgusting. Archived from the original on May 7, 2024. Retrieved May 7, 2024.
  30. ^ a b D'Alessandro, Anthony (April 21, 2024). "'Civil War' Brings Audiences Together With $11M+ Second Weekend Win – Sunday AM Box Office Update". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on April 20, 2024. Retrieved April 21, 2024.
  31. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (April 28, 2024). "'Challengers' Serves Biggest U.S. Opening To Luca Guadagnino At $15M; Best For Zendaya Live-Action Non-IP Pic – Sunday AM Update". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on April 28, 2024. Retrieved April 28, 2024.
  32. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (May 5, 2024). "'The Fall Guy' Tripping To $28M Opening – Sunday AM Update". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved May 5, 2024.
  33. ^ "Abigail". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved June 13, 2024. Edit this at Wikidata
  34. ^ "Abigail". Metacritic. Fandom, Inc. Retrieved May 29, 2024.
  35. ^ Colangelo, BJ (April 7, 2024). "Abigail Review: This Ballerina Vampire Bloodbath Is A Perfect Horror Movie [Overlook 2024]". Variety. Archived from the original on April 28, 2024. Retrieved April 29, 2024.
  36. ^ Dargis, Manohla (April 18, 2024). "'Abigail' Review: Horror by Numbers". New York Times. Archived from the original on April 29, 2024. Retrieved April 29, 2024.
  37. ^ Fear, David (April 19, 2024). "'Abigail' Is Scary, Gory, and a Fresh-Blood Transfusion of Vampire-Ballerina Fun". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on April 30, 2024. Retrieved April 29, 2024.

External links[edit]