Synopsis: An investigative reporter teams up with a Police officer to solve the mystery of why a seemingly good man murdered her sister’s family.
Release Date: December 9, 2016 MPAA Rating: PG-13
Genre(s): Horror, Thriller
The definition of the word “abattoir” is “slaughterhouse.” While that’s not exactly what goes on in Abattoir, the new movie from director Darren Lynn Bousman (Saw II–IV, 11-11-11), it’s as good a name as any for it.
Abattoir is about an investigative reporter named Julia Talben (Jessica Lowndes from “90210”) whose sister is the victim of a brutal murder. Looking for answers, Julia goes to her sister’s house, and discovers that it has already been sold. Furthermore, the room in which the crime occurred has been ripped right out from the rest of the house. After a little snooping, Julia traces the sale to an enigmatic man named Jebediah Crone (Dayton Callie from “Sons of Anarchy”), who has made a habit of buying and gutting murder houses – as Julia says, “the guy’s collecting ghosts, and one of them is my sister!” With her ex-boyfriend, a detective named Declan Grady (The Grey‘s Joe Anderson), along for security and muscle, Julia’s investigation takes her to a creepy little town called New English where she hopes to find Jebediah Crone…and the answers to her questions.
With Abattoir, Bousman and screenwriter Christopher Monfette (“12 Monkeys”) have crafted a pretty cool re-invention of the haunted house genre of horror movie. Monfette’s script, based on Bousman’s comic book series of the same name, finds the haunted house, or the titular Abattoir, made up of all of the stolen rooms from the various murder victims’ homes and, therefore, is constructed more by the imagination of the person who’s exploring it rather than by the ghosts that occupy it. In Julia’s case, it is like being inside a true house of horrors.
But Abattoir is not all haunted houses and ghastly ghosts. That’s only part of it. It’s basically a mystery movie, with two archetypical characters (a reporter and a cop) trying to get to the bottom of it. The journey takes them through some crazy occult stuff, but that’s what makes the movie so fun. And it is a fun movie. It’s sort of a cross between The Ring and Children of the Corn, with both a great buildup and a payoff that really…well, pays off.
The fun is compounded by a couple of familiar faces within the film. It seems as if the great Lyn Shaye is in every horror movie from Insidious to Ouija these days, and she appears in Abattoir as a New English resident who provides some necessary (if a bit obvious) exposition to the heroine. Less visible (but just as recognizable) is Michael Paré, better known as Eddie from Eddie & The Cruisers, who pops up in a small role as a ruthless maniac.
Throughout his career of creative filmmaking, Darren Lynn Bousman has made more hits than misses, but has never really had a wildly successful movie. Unfortunately, Abattoir probably won’t be wildly successful, either. But, it’s a haunted house movie that is unlike any other, so it’s absolutely worth a watch.
There are a lot of factors that contribute to the scariness of Abattoir. Dayton Callie’s Jebediah Crone is the most obvious one. He’s creepy as hell, and it’s not a subliminal creep, either – he’s overtly threatening, like Phantasm‘s The Tall Man or Poltergeist II: The Other Side‘s Henry Kane. At first, it seems as if the over-the-top sound design and comic book-style lighting of the film are trying too hard to make it scary, but after a while, the viewer realizes that whatever is happening is working, because they’re legitimately scared, even if they don’t know why. The climax of the film is unsettling and disorienting (that’s a compliment), the camera of modern horror master cinematographer Michael Fimognari (Oculus, Ouija: Origin of Evil) shaking and speeding its way through the third act, never giving the audience a chance to catch its breath. There are scarier movies than Abattoir out there, but none that sneak up on you in quite the same way.
Cast and Crew
- Director(s): Darren Lynn Bousman
- Producer(s): Jesse BergerBrent C. Johnson
- Screenwriter(s): Christopher Monfette
- Cast: Jessica Lowndes (Julia Talben)Joe Anderson (Declan Grady)Dayton Callie (Jebediah Crone) Lin Shaye (Allie)John McConnell (McDermott)Bryan Batt (Chester)Michael Paré (Richard Renshaw)J. LaRose (Kyle)Jackie Tuttle (Amanda)Jay Huguley (Felix)Aiden Flowers (Charlie)Carol Sutton (Muriel)
- Cinematographer: Michael Fimognari
- Production Designer(s):
- Costume Designer: Dana Embree
- Casting Director(s): Meagan Lewis
- Music Score: Mark Sayfritz
- Music Performed By:
- Country Of Origin: USA