Abattoir Movie Review
Written by R.J. MacReady
Released by Momentum Pictures
Directed by Darren Lynn Bousman
Written by Christopher Monfette
2016, 103 minutes, Rated R
VOD released on December 7th, 2016 | DVD released on February 7th, 2017
Jessica Lowndes as Julia Talben
Joe Anderson as Declan Grady
Dayton Callie as Jebediah Crone
Lin Shaye as Allie
John McConnell as McDermott
Bryan Batt as Chester
Michael Paré as Richard Renshaw
Director Darren Lynn Bousman has had an eclectic career as a horror director. He hit it big with Saw II, and followed it up with the next two Saw movies in the franchise. After that though, he decided to branch out and do his own movies, starting with Repo! The Genetic Opera and then Mother's Day, 11-11-11, The Devil's Carnival and The Barrens.
I was never a fan of the off-kilter stuff like Repo! and The Devil's Carnival, but Bousman has shown some style and talent in the Saw flicks, and there are glimmers in his other films.
Now comes Abattoir, the movie I'd never even heard of before two weeks ago. Purported to be the "ultimate" haunted house movie, but does it live up to the billing?
It starts shakey. I'm not sure whether it's the screener copy I was watching, or an issue whenever the scenes take place in the "newsroom", but they look green-screened in that Sin City fashion that works for those films, but not in a movie like this. Don't get me wrong – they're definitely NOT green-screened, but it gives off that impression.
After that, the movie seems to gain purpose, as the sister of our protagonist, Julie, is murdered along with her husband and son. The murderer calls Julie to tell her what he's done, and waits at the house until she shows up with her ex-boyfriend, Detective Grady.
The murderer gives no reason for what he's done, but within a week someone has bought the house and inexplicably ripped out the room where the murders took place. Julie, a reporter, is intrigued and sets out to discover how that's possible, and why. She discovers that someone has been buying houses where deaths have taken place, and has been removing the rooms.
It doesn't take a genius to figure out someone's building a house composed of these "murder rooms". But why?
The answer comes in a very slow-burning movie that at times is so sluggish you want to stop playing it. Lynn Shaye does what she always does, which is to entertain while she's on the screen, but she can't salvage what turns out to be twenty minutes of exposition about a cult leader played by Deadworld nice-guy Dayton Callie, who has "gone to hell and brought secrets back with him".
Followed by another twenty minutes of investigation. It's a full 70 minutes into the film before it finally starts giving us anything approaching horror, and that's just too late to save it.
Abbatoir has an interesting premise but ultimately is ruined by weak writing. The characters are as stock as stock comes, and I didn't even mention the weird noir-ish, 1950's look that they went with. From the cars to the outfits to the lighting...except people are using cell phones and computers at times, so clearly it's not 1950...
Bousman's a talented director but, like so many, only as good as the script he's servicing, and here the script's bad.