REVIEW: Abattoir (2016)

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2016, Dark Web Productions/Les Enfants Terrible/Luminary Entertainment/Pacific Bridge Pictures/Radical Studios

Director:
Darren Lynn Bousman
Producers:
Jesse Berger
Brent C. Johnson
Writers:
Darren Lynn Bousman (original graphic novel)
Christopher Monette (screenplay)
Cinematography:
Michael Fimognari
Editing:
Brian J. Smith

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 Hughley (Felix)
Aiden Flowers (Charlie)
Carol Sutton (Muriel)

From the director of three installments of the Saw franchise comes this tale of a small town that is not like any other and a reporter who must go there to uncover the murder of her sister’s family.

Julia Talben is a reporter for a local newspaper who longs to become an investigative reporter despite reservations from detective Declan Grady. However, one fateful night, Julia has learned her sister, along with her sister’s family, have been brutally murdered by the seemingly nice Richard Renshaw for no reason. When Julia learns the room where the murders took place has been inconspicuously taken, she turns to Renshaw for clues. When Renshaw mentions the name “New English”, Julia, who remembered her mother was there, decides to head over there despite more reservations from Grady.

Upon her arrival to the small town, she is warned by the town’s sheriff McDermott, to leave town. However, she refuses to leave and ends up in her family’s house, now owned by Allie, who told Julia her mother died of cancer thirty years ago. Grady also arrives in the town to help Julia and the duo stays with Allie. Meanwhile, Julia learns that a local preacher, Jebediah Crone, has been known to sacrifice children who were “pledged” by their parents, the local townsfolk. To make matters worse, Crone is discovered to be the buyer of the room where Julia’s sister was killed because he plans to build a house made up of rooms where murders took place. Will Julia and Grady be able to stop Crone or will an even darker secret lead to something more horrific?

Darren Lynn Bousman is truly a pretty good horror filmmaker with a reputation that began with Repo! The Genetic Opera but broke through when he directed the second through fourth installments of the famous Saw horror film series. With his latest film, with the script by Christopher Monette, the film starts out as a murder mystery that delves into a morbid tale that brings films like The Village to mind yet with something even more sinister in the midst. It must be noted that the title of film is referred to as a “slaughterhouse”, but this is not meant as a literal meaning but rather a metaphorical meaning.

The cast does quite well in their roles. As investigative reporter Julia, Jessica Lowndes brings a stern attitude to her role as a woman who longs to become a crime reporter rather than dealing with real estate and finally lives her dream when the crime involves the brutal murders of her sister and family. Her chemistry with Joe Anderson’s detective Grady is questionable at times, only because the audience isn’t quite sure what their relationship is. Are they married? Boyfriend-girlfriend? Friends with benefits? That part is uncertain, but it is clear that they both respect each other yet at times can’t stand one another.

However, one of the film’s saving graces is Dayton Callie, who plays the insane preacher Jebediah Crone. Callie brings Crone as someone who may not look insane, but his foremanner oozes insanity with him basically controlling the town under his “spell” and his idea of creating a house made up of rooms where murders occur. As for Michael Paré, the legendary actor makes the most of his extended cameo in the pivotal role of Julia’s sister’s murderer Renshaw, who brings the clues that lead Julia to the evil village.

There’s something about Lin Shaye (the pun being intentional as she appeared in the 1998 comedy There’s Something About Mary) that makes her performances in horror films great even if the overall film is not so good all the time. She makes any role work well and while she is perhaps known for the iconic role of paranormal expert Elise Rainier in the Insidious films, shows a bit of a crazy side in the form of Allie, the local woman who lets Julia stay with her and holds a dark secret of her own yet she does it with such grace and wit that it brings a bit of much needed wittiness to a morbid setting.

Abattoir is a pretty decent horror film that may have raise questions, but is a well-shot meshing of crime investigation thriller and small town horror film, thanks in part to the driven performances of Dayton Callie and Lin Shaye alongside Jessica Lowndes as the stern reporter who will do what it takes to solve her sister’s murder. Morbid but not as bloody as one might think.

WFG RATING: B

Momentum Pictures will be releasing this film in limited theaters, Video on Demand, and Digital HD on December 9th.

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