The horror genre is one of a kind – it’s the most repetitive one, with cliche after cliche in most of the features. Darren Bousman’s Abattoir seemed to offer something fresh – a mixture of gritty crime drama and a ghost-story horror, but in the end, it’s just another forgettable horror flick with a wasted potential.
A witty investigative reporter (Jessica Lowndes) becomes afflicted by a terrible death of her sister’s family. Once she notices that the interior of the room, where the family was killed, is literally gone, she begins to unravel the mystery revolving around the brutal murders from the past.
Abattoir‘s premise was a bit of an intersection of Thirteen ghosts and some whodunnit crime drama. As the first half kicks off with a mysterious murder, Darren Bousman literally collects multiple plotholes on the way. The characters come up with their investigation with small efforts and it’s hard to follow with the pieces of the puzzle. Nonetheless, he still knows how to capture the audience’s attention, as his film is surprisingly coherent in its visuals, delivering the goosebumps due to the creepy atmosphere rather than blood-curdling violence. Although it’s not top-notch directing, it sustains hope as to what might come next.
However, Bousman cannot do the magic trick for too long. As hard as he tries to cover up the loose plot, the problems become really disturing once we enter the second half. When his horror baby makes a turn towards the scary part, only then it gets truly… ridiculous. Out of the blue, the crime drama switches to some nasty religion-based story, with peasant-fanatics, almost-voodoo stuff and ghosts creeping out of the screen. Unfortunately, it feels so unmatched with the previous half that there’s nothing appealing in this odd ghost fest. And afterwards, all one may ask is “what did I miss?”.
Not much of a help comes from the cast members too. Jessica Lowndes, paired up with Joe Anderson as her closer-than-friend cop, constitute an awkwardly unfit duo, with no chemistry at all. Additionally, they’re both quite terrible at delivering their lines with confidence and a kind of acting sense – whilst Lowndes is a beauty with over-drama written all over her, Anderson is just painfully ordinary. Still, there was a ray of hope – Dayton Callie as the devilish emissary of hell, played the right tunes in keeping the tight rein. Yet, his role was too confined and small to actually make an impact at the final impression.
In the end, Abattoir is nowhere close to the modern trend of re-inventing the horror genre. Frankly, it may still be an entertaining flick for a rainy evening – just make sure not to wind up the expectations too much. And maybe go get a beer, as it might come in handy.
What’s cool: It’s creepy, atmospheiric and obviously, Jessica Lowndes is a joy to watch (not mentioning her acting skills though).
What’s not cool: Cliche, cliche, cliche…
UMP Grade: 21/50