Yorkers will need little convincing of the real estate industry’s evilness.
However, the sort of flipping reporter Julia Talben uncovers will be a new one
on them. A mysterious holding company is buying up crime scene houses and
removing the murder rooms before re-selling cheap. The story gets personal for
Talben when it happens to her late sister’s house. The trail leads her to the
fixer-upper from Hell (more or less literally) in Darren Lynn Bousman’s Abattoir (trailer here), which opens
tomorrow in Los Angeles.
is understandably devastated when her sister, brother-in-law, and sickly nephew
are murdered by a home invader, especially since the poor boy never really had
a chance to enjoy life. To add salt to the wounds, the bank sells their house
suspiciously, nearly impossibly quickly soon thereafter. It turns out the
purchaser is a holding company with a record of these sort of transactions.
Generally, the shady outfit only hangs onto properties long enough to somehow
remove the rooms of infamy. It also happens to be registered in the same
depressed [post-] industrial town that Talben traced her birth mother to, in
hopes of finding a donor match for her nephew.
locals are not exactly friendly. In fact, the sheriff keeps trying to run her
off. Yet, he is probably the friendliest of the lot, except perhaps Allie, the
proprietor of the world’s most available bed-and-breakfast, who shelters Talben
until her on-and-off cop boyfriend Declan Grady arrives to back her up. It
turns out the town is under the malevolent sway of demonic cult leader Jebidiah
Crone, who is about as sinister as his name suggests.
Abattoir is set in the
world of (but not adapted from) Bousman’s limited graphic novel series of the
same name. It definitely helps having such a richly eerie backstory pre-established
and ready to be applied. Although Bousman slightly loses sight of the human
element during the big, woo-woo special effects climax, the film is mostly a
character driven affair, which is why it gets so creepy.
Lowndes and Joe Anderson have surprisingly snappy chemistry together as Talben
and Grady. However, the film really belongs to the crafty old timers. Lin Shaye’s
Allie keeps viewer completely off-balance, whereas Dayton Callie chews the
scenery with menacing authority as Crone. John McConnell adds further
screwed-up small town color as the less than reassuring sheriff and Michael Paré
even turns up briefly as the murderer of Talben’s family.
falls apart at the end, but that is oh so typical of the genre. For at
least eighty percent of the film, it is a first-class example of moody,
suspenseful story-telling and intriguing dark fantasy world-building. Vastly superior
to his Saw franchise installments and
his Grand Guignol excesses, like Repo: The Genetic Opera, Abattoir is
probably Bousman’s best film to-date. Recommended without caveats for horror
fans, it opens tomorrow (12/9) at the Arena Cinelounge in LA and the AMC
Westminster in Colorado.
Labels: Darren Lynn Bousman, Horror Movies, Lin Shaye