If there was an award for the most unnecessarily confusing horror film of the year, it would surely go to Abattoir. An interesting premise is taken to such ridiculously overwrought extremes as to become virtually unwatchable in the final act.
The strangest thing, though, is that director Darren Lynn Bousman has previously demonstrated with three of the Saw movies an ability to reign in some of the excess, while retaining a central story that is interesting despite horrific indulgence. Here, the intriguing opening act fails to develop into a worthwhile narrative as more and more exposition and plot are thrown into the bloated mix.
When her sister and family are killed by a stranger with no motive, real estate reporter - apparently, it’s a thing - Julia (Lowndes) decides to investigate. Accompanied by her on/off boyfriend Grady (Anderson), looking like a cross between Brad Pitt’s detective in Seven and an extra from Polanski’s Chinatown, she travels to the town of her birth to try and uncover the truth.
Without revealing too much in the way of spoilers, although we suspect you won’t care, someone is instigating random acts of murder and then “collecting” the room in which the murder occurs.
Through weary complication, this relates in some way to Julia’s past, and the fact she was given up for adoption becomes increasingly relevant. Or it would if the story made even a modicum of sense. Too many elements from too many other horror films serve only to confuse the central theme as the most interesting elements of Abattoir are ignored or simply forgotten about.
A faint whiff of film noir fades as Bousman moves towards a story more akin to a crossover of Hot Fuzz and The Stepford Wives, as a variation on a cult is revealed. The central bad guy, who is given what is supposed to be a sympathetic backstory, is more pantomime villain than the true evil he is occasionally portrayed as. And as for the Abattoir itself; the final few scenes become more an assault on the senses than a satisfactory conclusion to a horror film.
Sadly, Abattoir is little more than a frustrating disappointment. After the opening, Bousman never appears to have full control as to where his film is heading. The result is more mess than macabre, and while it will likely find a home in the depths of Netflix, it is not a film worth seeking out.
ABATTOIR / CERT: 18 / DIRECTOR: DARREN LYNN BOUSMAN / SCREENPLAY: CHRISTOPHER MONFETTE / STARRING: DAYTON CALLIE, JESSICA LOWNDES, LIN SHAYE / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW