by Brody Rossiter
Noirish conventions are commonplace when it comes to hardboiled detective dramas and crime thrillers. Sultry femme fatales and whiskey-soaked cops inhabit tales of woe filled with corruption, deceit and murder. However, such dark and moody trademarks are rarely seen outside of the genres from which it was born, Perhaps that’s why Darren Lynn Bousman’s Abattoir feels so fresh and unique in its approach to horror storytelling despite being stitched together from various pulpy pages of familiar source material.
A stumbling across a bizarre and disturbing rumour regarding a house being constructed from crimes scenes – specifically rooms in which individuals have been killed or murdered in various grizzly manners – real-estate reporter, Julia Talben (Jessica Lowndes) journeys off the beaten track to go house hunting.
Aided by old flame and homicide detective, Declan Grady (Joe Anderson), and spurred-on by a horrific event in her personal life, Julia journeys to the land of New English, a ramshackle industrial ghost town hidden deep in the Louisiana wilds. Soon the towns ghoulish malaise begins to haunt Julia and Grady, the polished black and blue environments of Los Angeles become a distant memory as the swampy backwater grime of Louisiana permeates the narrative. Stylishly transitioning between muscular dramatics, brutish horror and Lynchian surrealism, Abattoir’s moody slow-burning narrative gradually constructs a satisfying and dynamic narrative layered with vivid imagery and revelatory exposition.
The omnipresent influence of ringmaster-esque villain Jebediah Crane grows ever more tangible as the true scale of his design is uncovered. The scares may well make the viewer jump, but they also linger, burrowing into the psyches of the investigative duo. Bousman builds a distinctive modern horror movie from the tropes of the past before gradually beginning to deconstruct his own creation with great deal of devilish flair. How do you build a haunted house? Abattoir has all the tools you could ever need.