HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: ABATTOIR (2016)

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ABATTOIR (2016)

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Pretty reporter Julia (Jessica Lowndes) has recently suffered a tragedy when a random psychopath murders her sister and family in their own home. Before she even has time to get over her grief, she finds her sister’s house has been bought by a mysterious individual and the crime scene room completely removed. Julia begins to investigate along with her cop love interest, Grady (Joe Anderson) and finds that there is a history of homes bought after tragedies and in each case, the room containing the deaths has been completely removed. Her investigation leads to a small dying town called New English, a town she has personal connections to, and a enigmatic individual by the name of Jebediah Crone (Dayton Callie) who is collecting places that hosted horrific events…but why?

Flick is directed by Darren Lynn Bousman from a script by Christopher Monfette based on a graphic novel. While it has some interesting ideas and the concept of someone building a house made out of crime scene rooms is quite intriguing, the details surrounding our villain’s actions are a bit cloudy…especially as to how this is going to accomplish his proposed goals. There are some questions that seem only vaguely answered, such as what did Crone promise the citizens of New English that they would so easily kill, and of their own blood to get it and why does his house made of the ghosts of the horribly slain need a ‘fresh’ tragedy to be finished? Also, what is Crone? Demon? Ghost? We are never quite sure why he walks the earth now, after apparently meeting his demise years earlier and where he gets his power from. Some weak dialog throughout also doesn’t help matters, either and it seems there are some good ideas here that could have been better developed or conveyed more effectively to the audience. Bousman does direct this stylishly and with a lot of atmosphere, especially in the second half after a bit of a stale start. He makes great use of the Louisiana locations and despite the overloaded story, the last half hour set in Crone’s house of horrors is spooky and effective, even if we aren’t all that clear on where exactly all this is leading. Crone states his purpose but nothing indicating why he believes so. Bousman gives the movie a film noir flavor and it works with the supernatural subject matter very well. There is some violence, but it is done with restraint and not as prevalent as some of Bousman’s past films. The cinematography by Michael Fimognari is loaded with atmosphere as is the score by Mark Sayfritz which helps give the film a chill factory despite it’s flaws.

Even if Bousman and Monfette are being purposely a bit ambiguous on the ultimate point of all that occurs, it also doesn’t help that the film is also dragged down a bit by some sadly sub-par performances by some of it’s leads. Jessica Lowndes is beautiful and has the look of a film noir character, but isn’t much of an actress and it hurts as she is our main character. She’s not terrible, but far too wooden and limited in range to really pull this off. Anderson growls all his dialog and is simply weak as the love interest/cop Grady. Dayton Callie is creepy and mysterious as Jebediah Crone and it helps make the enigmatic nature of the character work, even though we’d like a clearer picture as to who he is and why he has the power to do what he does. Rounding out is the always delightful Lin Shaye as Allie, one of the few citizens of New English that is receptive to Julia…but one with a secret, too.

An interesting if not totally successful flick. On one hand the dialog is weak and the story is a bit convoluted. We are never completely clear on who our antagonist really is and how what he does is going to accomplish what he desires…and where is he getting his power to do it? On the other hand, the film is atmospheric and despite being a bit ambiguous, is quite spooky in it’s last act. The house Crone assembles from the tragedies of others is quite impressive and imaginative and works even if we are not totally convinced of it’s purpose. And while our leads are weak, Callie presents a creepy mystery man in his Jebediah Crone that makes this work as well as it does. Worth a look as it has some original and spooky ideas.

-MonsterZero NJ

2 and 1/2 Crones.

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2 thoughts on “HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: ABATTOIR (2016)

  1. Abattoir is more of a murder-mystery than horror flick. I suppose I would call it a supernatural murder-mystery. It’s about a man Jebediah Crone collecting rooms from houses of the dead and places them in the woods of a creepy town. It has quite a bit of noir-esque elements that include an accidental femme fatale who wears far too much red lipstick, a mysterious police officer and a jazz-laden soundtrack. It’s never a scary film, but there is an automatic terror created in its disturbing concept that sees a man collect rooms from houses where people have met their grisly end. I liked the movie and thought it was entertaining, creative and stylish. It probably won’t be everyone’s cup of tea but I enjoyed it.

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