ABIGAIL Movie Review: Radio Silence’s Vampire Movie Loves Gore and Quebec

Abigail is elevated by incredible performances from Alisha Weir, Dan Stevens and Kevin Durand as a Québécois!

“In loving memory: Angus Cloud.”

On Marc Labrèche’s Je viens vers toi, director Denis Villeneuve confessed he wanted to put the word ‘tabarnak’ in Dune: Part Two, a curse word that Quebecers hold very near and dear to their hearts. Stating that it ultimately didn’t work out, with Josh Brolin attempting (but failing) to utter the word and Timothée Chalamet stating that they would be hailed as heroes on Ste. Catherine Street, if they used the word, Villeneuve’s insertion of the word would’ve been miraculous. No one outside Québec would’ve gotten it, but it would be the biggest way the filmmaker could’ve celebrated his origins on such a large scale. 

In Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett’s Abigail, Kevin Durand plays a mob heavy named ‘Peter,’ who used to work in Montreal for the Brosseau crime family (and has a thick Quebec accent to support it). That alone is hilarious and aroused massive bewilderment in the audience until Peter gets chased by the film’s titular character (played by Alisha Weir) and utters (in a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment) a ‘tabarnak!’ Everyone in the audience noticed it (and subsequently cheered).

RELATED: Deadpool 3: Blade Rumored To Join Multiverse Adventure – Are We Getting An Unexpected Wesley Snipes & Ryan Reynolds Reunion?

It makes perfect sense. Not only is Durand French-Canadian, but Bettinelli-Olpin and Gillett (also known as Radio Silence) shot their last movie, Scream VI, in Montreal. Perhaps it didn’t look like New York City (at all), but the duo might have developed an adoration for Québec culture so much that they winked at the individuals who helped make their last film happen. Abigail was not shot in Montreal or in Québec, but this incredible Quebecois representation has shown that Denis Villeneuve should’ve put the word when he had the chance instead of tiptoeing around, thinking it wouldn’t work in Frank Herbert’s world (the use of ‘tabarnak’ works in everything). Radio Silence beat you to it, and it worked brilliantly. 

Abigail Plot Summary

Abigail lead

I could end this review here because, truly, after this moment, I couldn’t necessarily concentrate on anything else. How could you? A ‘tabarnak’ uttered in an American film by American filmmakers. This never happens (the last time it did it was in The Love Guru, which, yeah), and it feels like a miracle. The rest of the film is pretty good, though your mileage may vary depending on your appreciation of gore and vampires. 

Loosely based on Lambert Hillyer’s Dracula’s Daughter (very loosely), the film tells the story of a group of six criminals who capture a young ballerina named Abigail in an attempt to get a $50 million ransom out of their father (Matthew Goode). A man known as ‘Lambert’ (Giancarlo Esposito) tells the criminals to babysit Abigail for 24 hours before the father comes through with the money and uses aliases during the entire operation. 


‘Joey’ (Melissa Barrera) leads the pack and is the only one allowed to talk to Abigail, while ‘Peter,’ ‘Frank’ (Dan Stevens), ‘Rickles’ (Will Catlett), ‘Sammy’ (Kathryn Newton) and ‘Dean’ (Angus Cloud) help her in completing the operation. However, doubt begins to linger when they eventually discover who Abigail’s father is, and the crew no longer wants to participate in the operation. But it becomes too late once the house is locked from the outside, and Abigail begins to kill members of Joey’s crew one by one. Oh yeah, did I forget to mention she’s a vampire? Woo, how fun!

Abigail Has Entertaining Scares and Lots of Blood

It certainly may not be fun for Joey’s crew, but the bulk of Abigail is quite entertaining. How Bettinelli-Olpin and Gillett visually represent what the sun does to vampires may be the most interesting reinterpretation of its mythology I’ve seen in a major motion picture. Be warned: there’s lots of blood involved (and then some), and they were some of the most cathartic moments of the entire picture. The physicality of Abigail is also thrilling, with Radio Silence and cinematographer Aaron Morton crafting a slew of intriguing and visually exciting action setpieces in confined spaces. 

One such sequence sees Sammy accidentally plunge into a pile of dead bodies, a striking visual callback to James Wan’s Saw and the most claustrophobic, nauseating sequence I’ve seen on a screen this year. Other sequences involving Abigail brutally biting into people’s arms and necks are true bloodbath and a dazzling display of horror movie kinetics from filmmakers who have always thrived in amping up tension in the most uncomfortably horrific situations (think of Scream VI’s ladder scene, what a thrill to have seen this on the big screen). 

The performances are also quite entertaining, particularly Stevens, who completely revels in the character’s energy, acting as a perfect companion to his turn in Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire. Barrera, Catlett, and Durand are also great fun to watch, with screenwriters Stephen Shields and Guy Busick’s constant subversion of its narrative adding legitimate thrills to the chemistry they solidify within the picture. After leading Matilda: The Musical, Weir also continues her streak of scene-stealing turns. Abigail is a much different character than Matilda, but there isn’t a single moment in which her unpredictability is wasted in Weir’s hands. Her performance is perfectly calibrated with each emotional beat, whether fooling the criminals through her childish innocence as she is handcuffed or the incredible elevator scene, in which she dismantles (and reveals) each character’s worst fears.

Abigail Fizzles Out Near Its End

Weir is Abigail’s biggest strength and the main reason the audience will be invested until the end. But the movie eventually runs out of steam as it attempts a series of giallo-like twists and red herrings, successively occurring without a moment to process the last. Perhaps all of these reveals would’ve been better spaced out in its last two acts, but Shields and Busick cram in two movies’ worth of plot twists that the narrative eventually becomes way too dense and overwhelming for its own good. 

It’s a lot to ask of the audience, especially when the bulk of the story is relatively simple. Overcomplicating itself until the point of exhaustion isn’t necessarily a good thing, especially when your narrative doesn’t warrant it. It gives Barrera a few kick-ass moments of note, but the feeling is all too familiar after 2022’s Scream and Scream VI ended nearly identically than Abigail.

RELATED: ARCADIAN Stars Jaeden Martell and Maxwell Jenkins Discuss the Epic Creature Design And Who They Want to Work With Next

As a result, Abigail’s final moments aren’t as enjoyable as the directors think they are, even if it’s one of the bloodiest, gnarliest climaxes you may ever see from a studio picture in a very long time. But its strengths shine through the incredible performances of Alisha Weir, Dan Stevens, and Kevin Durand, with the latter giving the Québécois representation we didn’t know we needed until his subtle but effective use of ‘tabarnak’ during the film’s funniest chase gives Denis Villeneuve a run for his money.

Think big, sti!


Abigail is now playing in theatres everywhere. What did you think of the movie? What is your favorite Radio Silence horror movie? Let us know in the comments below and be sure to follow us on social media! We’re always watching.

KEEP READING: UNDEAD UNLUCK Reveals Final English Dub Cast of The Season


Picture of Maxance Vincent

Maxance Vincent

Maxance is a freelance film and TV writer, and a recent graduate of a BFA in Film Studies at the University of Montreal, with a specialization in Video Game Studies.