Per Matt
Back in the day when Bela Lugosi graced the silver screen, vampires were an elegant sort. They were nightmare creatures only whispered about through folk tales, who flirted with death (and beautiful women) daily. Unbelievably, it’s been almost 100 years since the actor first accepted the role of a lifetime, one which would define his professional career. In the meantime, Dracula has been reimagined numerous times in unique ways, and vampires have lived a steady pop-culture life, with the Twilight franchise being a notable — and possibly the most unholy — addition to the genre.

So, why not invite a ballerina vampire to the party?

Abigail begins as a heist movie. It’s fast and furious, as time is of the essence. A crack crew of criminals has been assembled to abduct a little girl and keep her secured for a brief amount of time within a safe house while her father collects the required ransom, with each one cashing in on the operation, if all goes to plan. At first, it seems all too easy. Abigail (played by Alisha Weir), a ballet dancer, is obviously confused and scared, but as the story slowly develops through smaller, more intimate scenes, we learn a little more about the character’s past.

Her father’s one busy man. He’s also a powerful crime boss within the New York underworld. He’s one who requires a lot of his daughter, and apparently his work takes him away for long stretches of time. She feels ignored and alone. Will this kidnapping actually bring them closer?

Once the mansion’s security system kicks in, these six criminals must learn to work together (despite obvious personality clashes) in order to survive. But when they finally discover their true purpose to the overall plan, will it all be for naught once Abigail reveals she’s a vampire?

As a relative unknown (to me, at least), Weir’s acting performance is terrific here. She literally transforms from a frightened 15-year-old to an undead demon hundreds of years old and her acting chops are strong. Her best moments come when she brings her dance moves to the killing spree (which are all too short lived).

Regarding the rest of the cast, each of the criminals gets a couple of oneliners to remind the audience they’re a part of the story, but for the most part, each one fully stays within their own lane. You’ve got the muscles (Kevin Durand’s Peter), a crooked NYPD detective (Dan Stevens’ Frank), a spoiled rich hacker (Kathryn Newton’s Sammy), a Marine sniper (William Catlett’s Rickles) and a lovelorn, sociopathic driver (Angus Cloud’s Dean).

The only character that truly gets an opportunity to develop is Melissa Barrera’s Joey. Originally intended to be Abigail’s only contact among the crew, this former Army medic-turned-junkie slowly reveals she’s got a heart of gold (and perhaps a conscience). As the only person to actually show a little compassion toward the little one in this crew, that experience pays off by the film’s conclusion.

I’ve got to say I was pleasantly surprised by this movie. There are obvious horror tropes scattered throughout its script, but I enjoyed the updated spin on a familiar storyline. I wish the heist portion of the movie could have lasted a little longer in order to showcase these strangers’ interactions a little more with each other, as well as the individual personality of each one. That being said, with the exception of a couple characters, their sole purpose is to simply add to the overall body count.

I was also surprised to learn after the fact that this film is a loosely based on Dracula’s Daughter, which, itself was inspired by a deleted chapter in Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel. This revelation begs the question: Is this modern-day take on the classic character soon to be an entry into the next spin of the Dark Universe? And why wasn’t this storyline brought to Blumhouse (which successfully released an updated version of The Invisible Man)?

Allegedly, this is a standalone film brought to you by the folks who ushered Scream (2022) and Scream VI to the big screen, but I’d still love to eventually see more adventures of this diminutive character in crossover stories with other Universal Monsters in the near future… hopefully an executive decision can be made before the film’s star hits a growth spurt.

Featuring echoing shrieks, gory fatalities and comedic deaths that feel inspired in part by What We Do in the Shadows, Abigail‘s ballerina vampire with daddy issues isn’t as elegant as Lugosi, and the screenplay doesn’t offer too many jump scares, but it is an engaging entry for the Universal Monsters franchise, hopefully encouraging future possibilities with more reimagined concepts for the genre.