Darren Lynn Bousman made his name directing Saw II to IV and then turned his hand to something almost entirely different with Repo! The Genetic Opera a surreal splatter punk rock opera staring Paul Sorvino, Anthony Stewart Head, Sarah Brightman and Paris Hilton.
Abattoir sees Bousman back in more familiar horror territory however that doesn’t mean he has left behind his experimental side opening as the film does with Se7en style chilling stylised titles detailing different murders and then plunging us into the world of real estate reporter Julia (Jessica Lowndes) dressed and acting like a quick talking dame straight out of a 1940’s film noir.
The film moves on to show our plucky heroine visiting her sister and her family revealing itself to be set in modern day but before we can find our feet the loving family is brutally murdered leaving Julia in shock and disbelief.
As traumatised as she is what surprises her more is that straight after the funeral she finds out that her sister’s house has been sold. Knowing this to be both highly unusual and almost impossible to do she discovers it was bought by a mysterious old man who removed only one thing from the property, the entire room where the murder took place.
Determined to find out more about the murder and why the room is gone as well as who has taken it she embarks on a dark quest that takes her to the hidden hamlet of New English an ancient town concealing some even older secrets.
With its messy and confused opening that leaves the viewer wondering if they have started watching the wrong film by mistake Abattoir dosent really get started until the revelation that the place where Julia’s world ended has been physically ripped out and transported away.
This concept is a novel and imaginative one and from here on Darren Lynn Bousman and writer Christopher Monfette keep the audience captivated and as desperate to uncover the motive behind such an eerie act as the leading lady is.
Building on an urban legend about the ominous old man from an estate agent who has been collecting murder rooms for decades the film spins in a whole host of concepts from creepy townsfolk, insane cults, enigmatic preachers and sinister rituals all building to a great climax when Julie and her cop boyfriend Grady (Hannibal’s Joe Anderson) finally find the man behind it all.
With a sold cast including Lin Shaye from Insidious as well as Deadwood and Sons of Anarchy star Dayton Callie there are also some stunning effects and tons of tension and terror to keep up the thrills and chills of this innovative twist on the idea of a haunted house horror.