Katie (Chelsea Jurkiewicz, Stalker) is a young woman with a troubled life in co-writer/director Kelly Schwarze's indie horror flick Abigail Haunting, an ITN Distribution release that arrived on streaming/VOD release this morning through all your usual streaming outlets including Amazon Prime.
Katie has recently escaped the clutches of her abusive boyfriend (Christopher Brown), though not before a handful of questionable choices have threatened both her present and future. Desperate to escape, she flees to Prescott, Arizona and the home of Marge (Brenda Daly), her former foster mother who upon Katie's arrival appears to not be well equipped enough to parent as much as a pet rock. The two never had much of a close relationship and it doesn't appear as if there's any risk of it getting closer any time soon. An old friend, Brian (Austin Collazo), shows up and their relationship does a slow but fairly predictable reveal over the course of the film. Walter (Michael Monteiro) serves as the film's cautionary red flag of things to come that ain't quite right.
Abigail Haunting is almost exactly the kind of low-budget indie horror project you expect to find on Amazon Prime on some weekend late night when you're looking for some different and something a little scary. The film is, indeed, a little scary and not much more than that. It has a few chills and thrills, but it's true selling point is its solid production values and an ensemble cast that is better than we usually expect in this type of project.
Katie isn't exactly a sympathetic character, though in Jurkiewicz's able hands you also won't hate her as much as you probably should. Jurkiewicz finds those little human nuances that keep us invested in her despite the choices we know she's made along the way.
Austin Collazo may very well be the film's secret weapon. Seemingly given less range to work with, Collazo makes the most of it and intrigues throughout. Given even less range but lots more creepiness, Brenda Daly is memorable as Marge. Michael Monteiro shines as Walter, though he's way under-utilized.
Then, there's Abigail. I mean, seriously. The film is called Abigail Haunting. So, yeah. There's an Abigail and she haunts. To go into that part of the story would ruin what is already fairly predictable fun. Suffice it to say that Taylor May takes the formula and seems to have a blast with it.
Lensing by Michael Tushaus is effective throughout despite the challenge of shooting a good majority of the scenes in the dark, while Eric Rickey's original score matches nicely with the film's early casual pacing before a quickly building final third act.
Abigail Haunting is a little more of a cerebral horror flick, a slow-building and character developing effort that turns up both the chills and the thrills in that final third as secrets start to be revealed and pieces start to be put together. It's a film that requires patience, but for those willing to be patient this low-budget indie project has some effective pay-offs by film's end.
Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic