Saturday, October 08, 2016
DIRECTOR: Darren Lynn Bousman
WRITER: Christopher Monfette
Julia is an investigative reporter. She receives a phone call from a man who claims to have brutally murdered her sister and her family. Discovering the horrific crime scene, Julia is left devastated. When Julia returns to her sister's house after the funeral, she finds that the whole kill room has been removed from the home. Julia and her police officer boyfriend will soon uncover a dark and twisted mystery that has her returning to the small town of New English.
After watching this movie. I decided to do a little research. Reading up on Abattoir, I discovered that this movie is based on Radical Publishing's comic book series of the same name. I, myself, haven't read the comics so I won't be comparing the graphic novel source material against the film. This review will be solely based on what my thoughts on the film are and not whether the movie was anywhere near as good or bad as the comic series.
It has to be said that Abattoir has one of the coolest and most original premises that I think I've ever seen in a horror movie. Abattoir tells the tale of a man by the name of Jebediah Crone who collects rooms where tragedies have taken place. Removing the kill rooms, he creates a large house in the backwoods of New English in which these crime scenes have been stitched together to form a never-ending maze of rooms that house the dead and the damned. It' a shame that this film is so very poorly executed as I really liked the premise.
When I started watching Abattoir, I can't deny that I was somewhat confused by the setting of the film. The time frame for when the film is set is left entirely unknown to the audience and I was thrown off my guard while initially trying to piece this mystery together. The film is shot as if it's set in the forties or fifties. The film is dripping with this Neo-Noir, old-school look and vibe. The characters drive beautiful classic cars, yet the characters have mobile phones and live in current modern homes. It was a little confusing to me at first while the story unravelled.
A huge problem that Abattoir faces is the fact that it's pieced together sloppily. The mystery at the heart of this movie is put together so poorly, and it moves so rapidly that it feels all over the shop. While hurrying along when concerning story beats, it somehow manages the impossible feat of still feeling sluggish. Our main characters move from investigation to investigation, without much explanation. The movie relies on montages of murder to give us history, and that's about it regarding the story.
The ending of Abattoir is where I also had issues with the story. The movie builds up to this rather dark conclusion where it has the big reveal of what our villain has set into motion, and what the town of New English has done to bring themselves hope. It's incredibly dark, but the entire bargain seems ill-fated for the townspeople. It's never explained in detail what the pledge will bring other than hope. Maybe they're saving this vital plot point for a potential sequel?
The acting in Abattoir is also pretty dreadful. Our two leads Jessica Lowndes and Joe Anderson have seen much better days. I honestly believe that two different actors in these leading roles, we may have had a completely different movie regarding quality. We thankfully have entertaining turns by genre queen Lin Shaye who does weird and odd very well. She really was the shining light of Abattoir. Dayton Callie as our villain delivers a somewhat entrancing yet menacing performance.
Visually, Abattoir is steeped in dread. I mentioned above that the film has this neo-noir look that is rather interesting. When it comes to the overall feel of the film, it's incredibly dark and depressing from the first frames up until the last. If Darren Lynn Bousman gets something right, it's that he has created a film filled with dark visuals. I think the set design of the mansion in the final is exceptionally cool. The only time I didn't think the visuals worked were the ghosts in the film, they looked rather cheaply done. This could have been a budgetary issue.
Lastly, when it comes to delivering suspense in Abattoir, I think it lacked tension, and even real jump scares. The premise is more slow burn in its approach. I believe that the movie, however, makes up for lack of scares and tension with some rather brutal gore. The film is in fine form when throwing around blood and delivering a variety of kills. Within the first couple of minutes, we are showing a range of nasty kills and it never really stops getting creative on the gore front.
DEATH TOLL: 16
BLOOD AND GORE:
- A woman is drowned in a bathtub.
- A guy shoots himself in the head.
- Suffocated with plastic bags.
- Someone is pushed down the stairs.
- A woman is hit with an axe.
- Two people are shot with a shotgun.
- A man is seen covered in blood.
- Blood soaked walls.
- People are shot in the head and face.
- People's throats are slit.
- A woman has her head repeatedly bashed in with a hammer.
- Someone hangs themselves.
- A handyman is crushed by an elevator.
- A group of people at a party are poisoned.
- Someone is gutted on video.
- Lots of ghosts repeating their own demise.
- Someone is shot in the stomach.
Abattoir has one of the most original premises I think I've ever witnessed in a horror film. With all the brilliant ideas that the movie has at it's disposable, it just feels very poorly executed. Being based on a comic book series, I think this would have worked better as a TV show as I believe there is much more that could be done here than the hour and a half provided. The mystery at the heart of the film feels convoluted. The positives of Abattoir are the neo-noir style, set-design and performances from Lin Shaye and Dayton Callie.