Abbey Grace 2016
When Stacy's mom dies, Stacey puts her life and career on hold and returns to her childhood home to take care of her OCD agoraphobic brother Ben who hasn't been out of the house for 23 years only to find out the house they grew up in harbors a disturbing secret.
November 8, 2016
Stephen Durham and David Dittlinger
Debbie Sheridan, Jacob Hobbs, Amber Gallaway, and Semi Anthony
Everyone involved in the production of the supernatural horror Abbey Grace has something to be proud of. Director Stephen Durham (The Butchers) displays a solid understanding and command of genre tropes and filmmaking techniques and execution. Durhan and script co-writer David Dittlinger know how to tell a compelling story and all the major cast members are clearly professionals. The only thing Abbey Grace lacks is an original angle, a unique quality all its own. While it’s comforting to walk familiar roads, the film doesn’t break any new ground; not an inch.
Official Synopsis: When Stacy’s mom dies, Stacey puts her life and career on hold and returns to her childhood home to take care of her OCD agoraphobic brother Ben who hasn’t been out of the house for 23 years only to find out the house they grew up in harbors a disturbing secret.
Abbey Grace is premiering on Demand November 8th from Uncork’d Entertainment; the film stars Debbie Sheridan, Jacob Hobbs, Amber Gallaway, and Semi Anthony.
The biggest problem with Abbey Rose is that it’s too long. It feels as though the filmmakers were striving to hit the 90 minute mark simply because that’s an industry standard; it’s as though they felt it was necessary to be a legitimate “feature film”. But hitting that standard led to major pacing issues. I understand and appreciate character building, but there’s no excuse for spending so much time on the banalities of coconut water and cell phone chargers. There are even scenes in Act 3 that are near duplicates of scenes from Act 2 (except this time they get things right). As much as I loved the 1st Act (which I affectionately referred to in my notes as “The Cujo part of the movie”), the entire thing was unnecessary; it merely acted as 20 minutes of foreshadowing.
We’ve entered an era where even major studio theatrical horror releases can clock in at a lean 75 minutes.
One of the film’s biggest successes is the special FX, which are simple yet affective. Abbey Grace could be used as a model for getting big results on a small budget. Everything seems real because they leave the most terrifying moments to the imagination. This allows them to get a lot of bang out of levitation and slamming doors without blowing a wad of cash on CGI FX that never look right anyway. The set design is spot on and the location, a rural, converted boarding school with a graveyard out back, is perfect! This is one of those cases where the location essentially becomes a character in and of itself.
The cast member deserving the most praise Jacob Hobbs, who’s Ben is like an anti-Sheldon Cooper, and yes, I mean that as a huge compliment. It can be difficult to play someone with a mental illness without becoming a stereotype, but he nailed it. Everything from his delivery to his body language oozes with tension. The battle against the supernatural parallels his battle with crippling anxieties (which is often the case in films like these), but Hobbs creates a character you actually care about—someone you can actually cheer for—even if we couldn’t stand him at first!
Honorable mention goes to Maggie McNabb who played the titular Abbey Rose, a quintessential creepy-kid who delivers all the shivers of The Ring’s Samara. Semi Anthony was an excellent supporting character as Roman, the spiritualist; I appreciated the cast diversity, but the pacing issues I mentioned before made his part ultimately unnecessary. The director and writer should have chosen to include the dog subplot or the spiritualist subplot, but not both.
Bottom Line: Abbey Grace is an effective by-the-numbers creeper that will resonate with fans of films like The Innkeepers and We Are Still Here.