Director Darren Lynn Bousman, best known for his contributions to the Saw franchise, is back with a new film, Abattoir, which tries really hard to be a film noir, but lacks the execution to be successful.
Julia (Jessica Lowndes) is an ambitious real estate journalist who would rather be writing about crime. When her sister’s family is murdered, she seeks the help of a local cop and former flame, Declan Grady (Joe Anderson), to help solve the mysterious circumstances surrounding the murder. Someone removed the room where the murders were committed. This puts Julia and Grady on the trail of Jedediah Crone (Dayton Callie) and to the town of New English, where secrets will be uncovered and sacrifices will be made.
The basic premise of removing entire rooms where murders were committed to build a supernatural house of horrors is actually an interesting one, but the film suffers in nearly every other aspect of the production.
Although it’s a modern setting, the two leads, Julia and Grady, dress, act and, at times, speak as if they’re in a 50’s detective film. Actors Lowndes and Anderson have zero chemistry and the sexual tension we’re supposed to buy into feels forced. This could be a result of a weak script and the confusing tone. The second act adds an unnecessary layer of story and poorly developed characters to an already convoluted narrative.
Visually, Abattoir is fairly effective, but “style over substance,” which plagues far too many recent horror films, is cliché. Much like the film’s perplexing tone, the visuals of the first two acts have an indie film feel, while the bigger budget effects in the final act feel as though they belong in a different film.
The film is based on a graphic novel series by Bousman. Apparently, there is already a sequel in process, although where it can go from here is anyone’s guess.
Abattoir opens December 9th.
Suzanne Bell | Twitter: @ChazensJezebel