Darren Lynn Bousman, it’s fair to say, has a spotty track record in horror cinema. The man who made the superlative remake of Mother’s Day is also responsible for the okay Saw II, the not-so-okay Saw III, and the “Oh God, we’re only barely over halfway done?” Saw IV. More recently, he’s been turning to more operatic types of horror, fusing them to his intentionally over-the-top and hammy shtick in The Devil’s Carnival, which is sort of like a Juggalo version of The Twilight Zone. Nonetheless, his heart is clearly in the horror of yesteryear, in classic ghost stories and things that go bump in the night, which has led to Abattoir, his homage to noir, haunted houses, and Southern gothic spooks, all put in a Cuisinart and blended together.
The film stars Jessica Lowndes as a plucky reporter straight out of His Girl Friday and Joe Anderson (Breaking Dawn—Part 2, Michael Pitt’s replacement on Hannibal), doing his best Humphrey Bogart impression as a New Orleans detective. Weirdly, it’s still set in the modern day, adding a jarring tonal clash to the mix. But no matter, as someone is performing the equally odd trick of buying up locations where grisly murders have occurred and removing the scene of the crime from its housing. Soon, the pair are investigating a mysterious old town, a rumored curse, and an unknown man who seems to be behind all the goings on.
The YouTube page description basically gives away every single mystery that sustains the film’s first two acts, so maybe don’t read much about it if you have a desire to watch this. The A.V. Club saw the film recently at the Bruce Campbell Horror Film Fest, where Bousman himself freely admitted to the bizarre genre mashup approach. It didn’t entirely work for us, but it’s often pretty to look at, and besides, who knew Repo! The Genetic Opera would turn out to be so many people’s cup of tea?
Abattoir opens December 9.