Movie Trailers

Abigail Trailer

April 4, 202411 Mins Read

Between Ready or NotScream, and Scream VI, directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett have already established a reputation for crafting highly entertaining horror with a flair for gore and bloodletting. Their latest, Abigail, will take the gory horror and violence to a whole new level of delightfully deranged extremes.

That gore was on prominent display last summer, when Bloody Disgusting was invited to the set of Abigail, filmed in the birthplace of vampire horror originator Bram Stoker: Ireland.

Abigail, written by Stephen Shields (The Hole in the Ground, Zombie Bashers) and Guy Busick (Scream franchise, Ready or Not), transforms a heist movie into a full-blown bloodbath. A group of would-be criminals kidnap the 12-year-old ballerina daughter of a powerful underworld figure, only to find themselves locked inside with an actual monster.

The production transformed the Glenmaroon House, a historic Edwardian house originally owned by Arthur Ernest Guinness, into a creepy gothic estate filled with eerie taxidermy and decomposing things. A tour of many of the set pieces and rooms within the estate made it abundantly clear that there will be absolutely zero restraint when it comes to the carnage. One room, in particular, was coated floor to ceiling in viscera and blood, with entrails dangling from every surface, so much so that stepping foot into the room required extreme care to avoid trailing footprints in the sticky red stuff. 

That the monster in question wreaking havoc on the unsuspecting criminals, Abigail (Alisha Weir), happens to present as an unassuming child ballerina, gave the filmmakers the ability to push the gore as far as they could.

Tyler Gillett directing behind the scenes

Tyler Gillett behind the scenes on ‘Abigail’

Director Tyler Gillett explains, “I think that we always want to challenge ourselves and find new ways to shock and entertain ourselves. I also think that because of, I mean, look, I am going to steer it back to just who our monster is. Because you have this 12-year-old vampire at the heart of this movie, it just meant that we could go harder and more extreme and have more fun with the gore and the violence because you have her as a young girl, as the other guardrail. The further away those things get for us, the more fun and absurd the tone of the movie gets. And the more fun and absurd it gets, the more your characters have to interact with and respond to. I think a little bit, too, knowing that there are certain sequences that feel a little bit inspired by some of our other work that maybe we didn’t have the time or budget to do right; we definitely are revisiting some fun things in this movie in bigger and more extraordinary ways. But it gets pretty wild. I mean, there were days on set where you couldn’t walk anywhere because it was just a bloodbath. That, for us, is just super fun. You build these incredible elaborate sets, and then by the end of the shoot, it’s like, wow, what a crazy transformation.”

SFX Supervisor Paul Byrne of Scorpion FX reinforces the filmmakers’ aim to do as much practically as possible. “They were totally into as much in camera, real effects as they could get, which we gave,” Byrne tells Bloody Disgusting. “And they were brilliant with their information, their detail. I hadn’t worked with two directors before, and I was wondering what it would be like, but they were amazing. They were very, very humble people. I think the whole crew felt that spirit that they brought to the set wash over it.”

Byrne and his team had their work cut out for them with Abigail. Not just with the arterial spray but with the gruesome gags and kills.

He explains, “It was gag after gag; there just was never enough blood in the country, so we were kept very busy throughout, needless to say. I don’t think anything could be too big, really. So, we quickly learned as we went along just to go big or go home. The guys were brilliant, though. We constantly brought them tests and tests after tests and videos, and we literally invented the wheel again. We made new gags, stuff that didn’t exist and have never existed before, just to service what they wanted.”

But just how much blood are we talking about here?

Good question. We pretty much wiped out the blood supply in Ireland, I think,” Byrne answers with a smile. “And then we started going to other countries. We went through a lot of blood and we used a lot of different materials, non-toxic non-staining versions for other scenes that you’ll see, but there are various other substances and things that we had to make from scratch without getting too gross.”

Kathryn Newton in Abigail

Kathryn Newton as Sammy in Abigail, directed by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin & Tyler Gillett.

One of the gross moments the SFX Supervisor is referring to is a scene glimpsed in the film’s trailer that sees Kathryn Newton’s Sammy stuck in a pool filled with decomposing bodies. For her part, filming that sequence turned out to be one of the most physically challenging experiences of her career so far.

Newton explains, “This movie has been, oh my gosh, it’s the most traumatic experiences I’ve ever had in the best coolest way. Grossest, most difficult physically. I just did a Marvel movie, and this is way harder, way, way harder. Like physically. I had to do something where I jump into a pool of bodies and, yeah. Look, it was so thick that I sat and didn’t move. That’s how gross and thick it was. All I was thinking about was whether this was good or not, but I was really thinking about the audience. That was the only thing getting me through. It was comfortable, but I was sweating so much. I was so hot because I was working so hard. They did everything to make me comfortable. Everyone did their job, but it was just like, oh my God.

“It was so gross. It was heavy. The blood, the screaming, it looked so, so good. But I was really thinking because it was so hard, physically you can get stuck there just as a person, you’re like, oh my gosh, I’m tired. So, what I thought of before every take was, don’t go watch this movie and be disappointed that you didn’t kill it because you’re already doing this anyway. So, that was the best scene I’ve ever shot. A hundred percent the most iconic scene I’ve ever done in my career, probably. I hope. That’s the goal. When you do something scary like that, you just want it to be so frightening that it stays with the audience.”

While the sequence will no doubt be a showstopper, Paul Byrne teases that it’s far from the only grisly horror moment horror fans can look forward to; though he remained tight lipped.

Byrne teased “I think there are other ones that will pop up in the movie that would’ve been probably more challenging from an effects point of view. They all had their differences, but in this world, that’s what makes it interesting. But the pool scene is certainly going to be an interesting one to see with it.”

As for his personal favorite gag? “I think they’ll know it when they see it,” the SFX Supervisor teased.

Abigail Set Visit

The gore in Abigail won’t just thrill and delight the gorehounds; it’ll act as a release valve for the suspense and intense horror, too.

Gillett tells us, “We talk a lot about how building a scare and building a joke are really very similar. They’re all about just creating tension. I think for us, the thing that we tried to replicate is, and I think the magic trick of our tone is that if you have characters and actors who are playing their reaction to things in an incredibly grounded way, then the more extreme and absurd things get the scarier things get, but also the funnier things get because you have real people reacting to an extraordinary situation in a way that any of us might react. It allows you, I think, to continue to turn the volume up. As the movie ramps up, everyone gets more and more grounded in their response to things. I mean, it’s such a tool in this movie because there are so many conversations in this movie about who Dad is and the real tension of that. Then of course, a reaction to the extreme and ridiculous ballerina vampire that’s chasing them around. But everyone treats it like their lives are in peril at every moment. I think that’s what allows it to both be fun and funny and thrilling and scary at the same time.”

Dan Stevens, who plays the crooked Frank, is no stranger to horror. The actor also cites Abigail as his goriest horror film yet.

Stevens recalls, “It was definitely the bloodiest thing I’ve ever worked on in terms of volume, just pints of red syrup that were required on set and just the fun and the ridiculousness of that as well. And just if somebody vomits up blood, it’s like, okay, we’ve all seen that, but what if it lasts for a minute? And just how good is that? And just sort of having real fun with that. I think for Matt and Tyler as well, who have a great sense of humor and are really, really fun, lovely, funny guys. When we weren’t shooting gory scenes, we were just generally quoting ‘I Think You Should Leave‘ but just looking for the fun elements in those things.

“I find that, again, going back to horror filmmakers, how there’s a sort of dialogue between them sometimes so across it’s like, “Oh, well, if we are going to do this, there’s been a thousand vampire movies, there’s been a thousand heist movies, but what can we do that’s a little bit different? One of those things is definitely bringing in more blood, and there’s just sort of a real absurdity to this. I don’t know if it amps up each time. I feel like it does throughout the movie. Again, I would have to see it track, but each time somebody gets turned, each time somebody gets defeated, it just gets more and more insane to the point where, yeah, there’s this epic final showdown that really results in an event. The whole crew gathered around to watch it, like a fireworks display or something, this mad culmination. It was really fun.”

Abigail action gory horror

(from left) Abigail (Alisha Weir) and Sammy (Kathryn Newton) in Abigail, directed by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin & Tyler Gillett.

Melissa Barrera, who plays Abigail’s babysitter Joey, further describes just how bloody things were on set. She tells us, “This is the most blood that I’ve ever experienced in a movie. I’ve seen some movies that have a bathtub full of blood or someone comes out of blood and in the water. But talking about the amount of blood that you see throughout a movie, this is probably up there with the most. I don’t know; it’s a lot. We had blood cannons; that says a lot. Matt and Tyler have this joke even from the last movie, even from Scream VI, they always ask for more spritz, more sweat, and more blood. You already know hair and makeup will get you ready, and I would always tell them, ‘They’re going to want more.’ And they were like, ‘Okay. Well, we can always add more, but we can’t take away, so we have to go.’ And it was always more. Always, they always want more. It’s never enough for them.

Although it did get to the point where I was so bloody that my face just looked like nothing, like eyes and teeth, so they had to take away by the end because it was all one color and the blood was so dark on my face, that they actually had to wipe some off to give it some dimension. Because they were like, ‘You’re basically nothing. There’s basically nothing.’ And my hair was also bangs and shorter, so it was like a blob of darkness and eyes. They did have to wipe some off. It was a first for them and for me.”

Stay tuned for more from our Abigail set visit.

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