Abigail: Ballet vampire horror-comedy turns every dial up to 11

Outrageous reimagining of Dracula’s Daughter is fun for a while, but soon collapses under its own silliness

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Director: Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett
Cert: 16
Genre: Horror-Comedy
Starring: Melissa Barrera, Dan Stevens, Kathryn Newton, William Catlett, Kevin Durand, Angus Cloud, Alisha Weir, Giancarlo Esposito
Running Time: 1 hr 49 mins

An hour into this outrageous reimagining of the 1936 Universal Classic Monsters film Dracula’s Daughter, the movie’s monster starts to fly and one hardly bats an eye. It’s emblematic of the operatic pitch of the film’s directors, Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett. From the overly distressed production design to the geysers of blood, Abigail turns every dial up to 11.

A mid-movie reference to Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None trumpets the plot. A ridiculously overstaffed kidnap gang – including Dan Stevens as the Mean One and the late Angus Cloud as the Stoned One – abducts the ballet-dancing girl of the title (Alisha Weir) and whisks her away to a suspiciously Gothic-looking hideout. Melissa Barrera, playing the Kind One, assures Abigail that she’ll protect her from her associates. Unhappily, no one can protect her associates from Abigail, who is swiftly unmasked as a ravenous vampire. Comedy Grand Guignol ensues.

Alisha Weir brilliantly channels Linda Blair as she rampages en pointe. It’s not her fault that the ballet murder and spinning camera get very old very quickly. The many 360-degree turns eventually feel like watching a washing machine on spin.

Dragging scenes and sloppy pacing don’t help. Screenwriters Stephen Shields and Guy Busick insist on parachuting in mawkish backstories and family values where none were needed. The lore, even for a ballet vampire horror-comedy, is ridiculous. The inconsistently abled monster is unnaturally strong and occasionally easily defeated.


Barrera is a reliable and veteran Final Girl, but even she can’t save the film from collapsing under the weight of its own silliness. Fun for a while.

Tara Brady

Tara Brady

Tara Brady, a contributor to The Irish Times, is a writer and film critic