To say Darren Lynn Bousman is a visionary would be an understatement. As a fan of his work, I’ve followed his career since “Saw II” and have always enjoyed seeing him bring his own unique touch to each of his films. I thought I had seen his best work when I was introduced to “The Devil’s Carnival” but that was until the other night when I sat down and watched his latest film, “Abattoir.”
When I review films I look for certain things: atmosphere, scares, design, and story. It’s extremely rare to find a film that possesses all of these traits but when I come across one it’s an amazing discovery. “Abattoir” is one of these films and it will go on to be one of the most uniquely beautiful yet hauntingly soul crushing movies I have seen this year. To put it simply, “Abattoir” centers around an investigative reporter who is trying to solve the mystery of why someone is buying rooms where horrific acts of murder took place. The film stars Jessica Lowndes (The Devil’s Carnival), Joe Anderson (Horns), Lin Shaye (Insidious), and Dayton Callie (The Devil’s Carnival) and is written by Christopher Monfette (12 Monkeys TV Series), David J. Schow (The Crow) and Teddy Tenenbaum (The Ghost Whisperer). This is not a film that you can watch while doing work or hanging out with friends. “Abattoir” requires you to watch and pay attention as the events unfold. The movie is dense and descriptive, but I mean that in the best way possible.
The film opens up with us meeting Julia (Jessica Lowndes), an ambitious reporter who wants nothing more than to be following the crime beat, however I was confused as to why she was being presented to us as if she was taken from the 1950’s and placed in 2016. I came to realize quite quickly that “Abattoir” was clearly a nod to the great films from the noir period. Though it took me some time to get used to some of the intensity of the acting, especially between Julia and her love/hate interest, Grady (Joe Anderson), as well as the juxtaposition between the 50’s and present day, I ended up appreciating what I was watching. As the film progressed the story took a very dark turn which resulted in a triple murder. This singular act catapults Julia into investigating similar deaths which culminate in her meeting the enigmatic Jebediah Crone (Dayton Callie) and his obsession with purchasing homes where horrific tragedies have occurred so that he may build the ultimate haunted house.
I could go on and tell you more of the plot but I think knowing less is better in this case. When I watched “Abattoir” I knew very little of what was to transpire and I’m thankful for that as it allowed me to form an opinion with very little outside influences. What I can tell you is that the acting is solid and has probably one of my favorite performances from both Lin Shaye and Joe Anderson, the story is incredibly unique and different from any other horror films I’ve seen as of late, and the visuals are jaw-dropping and mind-blowing. Constructing “Abattoir” was clearly no easy feat but you could tell the director, writers, and actors were extremely passionate about getting this movie made. When we are finally introduced to the abattoir that Jebediah Crone has created, it’s the cherry on the pie. The set design of the abattoir is equally beautiful and sinister and I couldn’t help but fall completely in love with Jebediah’s creation. When the film ended and the credits rolled, I knew that “Abattoir” was going to be a film I didn’t soon forget.
As I sit here writing this review, I honestly can’t think of anything that I disliked about “Abattoir.” This was clearly a film created out of deep love of the horror/noir genre and it was so refreshing to watch something that was unlike anything else I’ve seen in recent memory. As someone who has a deep love and affection for horror films, I wholeheartedly believe that “Abattoir” is a movie that needs to be seen by not just the horror community, but by those who have a deep appreciation for film. In a world filled with sequels and reboots, “Abattoir” stands its ground and proves that we need more films such as this, especially in the horror genre. I can’t recommend this movie enough and when it does come out in theaters I urge everyone of you to go and support this extraordinary film.