Abattoir (2016) – Review Plus an Interview with Dayton Callie
What exactly is an abattoir? Well, it’s a slaughterhouse, but more on that in a minute.
I GOT TO INTERVIEW DAYTON CALLIE!!! Sons of Anarchy, Deadwood, and just all around nice guy. Now, you can ask The Husband, I’m not the type of person to “fan girl” (Is that a verb now? I don’t know, but I’m gonna use it as one.). But, when I was given this opportunity, I admit I geeked out a bit. I’m a HUGE SoA fan, and truth be told Gemma (played by the AMAZING Katey Sagal) and Unser (Callie) were my favorite characters. PLUS, I saw the trailer for this movie, and who doesn’t love a haunted house?
So, the interview was scheduled (You can find the interview here.), I received an advance screening of the film, and it was go time! I wanted to be sure to watch the film ahead of time. So, last Wednesday I settled down in my favorite chair, grabbed my notebook and a cup of coffee, and got down to business.
According to IMDB, this is what I had to look forward to Abattoir (2016):
“An investigative reporter teams up with a police officer to solve the mystery of why a seemingly good man murdered her sister’s family.”
And according to Webster’s this is what an abattoir is:
” A slaughterhouse.”
Ok, I’m down.
“Shit!” I had to call The Husband because I am apparently only technologically advanced enough to use my phone and my laptop. Anything else, including streaming an advance screening, and it’s above my pay grade. After he shook his head at me, I thanked him and settled back in my chair. (I’m assuming his head shake was his way of telling me that I’m smarter than this, but he would get the movie ready for me anyway!)
Note: There may be light spoilers throughout this review, so, if you are picky, you may want to skip to the interview and return after watching the movie.
Now, I like Jessica Lowndes, the lovely young lady that plays the lead. (Ok, I admit it, I watched that 90210 – let the laughter ensue!) A friend told me that Joe Anderson is pretty darn awesome too. (Hey, he was in The Grey, and since that is one of my favorite films, he must be pretty darn awesome!) And then there is Dayton Callie. So right there you have three strong actors filling the lead roles.
Now, for me, the beginning was a bit slow and a tad confusing. Lowndes plays Julia, an investigative journalist who likes to dress like Mrs. Cleaver, which was cool. 50’s fashion is some of the best in my opinion, but there was just enough of this film noir atmosphere going on that when I caught sight of say a pair of skinny jeans, I was momentarily thrown off. Anyway, she is a real estate writer/investigative reporter. Or perhaps I should say she is supposed to be writing about real estate, but wants to be an investigative reporter. She wants to strive for more. After getting chastised by her boss for taking liberties with an assignment, she heads on over to her sister’s for dinner. These short scenes were nice. Julia’s nephew is a sweet boy, but he is ill. Her sister and brother-in-law are tired frazzled parents, but it’s obvious they love one another, which is why the scenes that follow are some of the best in the movie.
When Julia starts to suspect something is wrong the day after the family dinner, she calls Declan (Anderson) and together they go to her sister’s house. The relationship between the two leads is never fully explored. He is into her, that much is obvious and a fling is hinted at, but that’s about as far as we get. When Julia and Declan arrive, they find the entire family murdered… well, let’s just say powerful stuff. And this sets Julia on a course to find what drove the killer to choose her family. This scene sets up the entire story, though be sure to pay attention, as much is left to be inferred by the viewer.
Though the setup was a bit slow, I never found myself bored. A movie like this is a slow burn in my opinion. They need to tell the story BEFORE the shit hits the fan. This movie is billed as a haunted house film, and when done right, I think this sub-genre includes some of the most effective horror films out there. When I originally started researching this film, the premise intrigued me. Someone was buying up property where horrific crimes/tragedies occurred and then removing the rooms where the tragedies occurred. Huh? Wha…? Sounds creepy as hell! What would someone do with those rooms?
Lowndes and Anderson were well suited to their parts, and Lin Shaye is always a treat, but I watched this movie for two reasons:
- Haunted house.
- Dayton Callie.
And I wasn’t disappointed with either. Because I was being given the opportunity to interview Callie, I wanted to pay close attention to his character – Jebediah Crone. Crone is, for all intents and purposes, a con man. He’s a salesman, and he sold the people of the small town where he resides a doozy of a premise. And that’s the thing, what he sold them, well we don’t rightly know. However, during the flashbacks (these are how Julia finds out what Crone promised the town), I was mesmerized. Crone was a force to be reckoned with, and the simple people of New English were easily conned.
What I saw (And let me be clear, this is just my take on the film.) is that Crone needed a true tragedy, something that would forever bind this town and all the people in it to him. And he clearly got one. What these people did in order to secure a better life for themselves is terrifying. And I will say that as soon as Shaye hit the screen, I guessed how Julia and her sister fit into the puzzle, but that obvious piece didn’t dampen my enjoyment of a truly imaginative film. Director Darren Bousman (director and writer from a few Saw movies) created a very surreal world, and the last twenty minutes of it made the slow burn very much worth it.
Watching the movie, I didn’t take many notes – something that worried The Husband.
“THOSE are your notes?” he asked me. “I don’t see much.”
“Trust me, it’s all good,” I told him.
I had to mull over what I had just seen, and I had to prepare for my interview. Now, I had a few things I wanted to ask Callie, but I knew I had to get one thing out of the way – my excitement. The Husband had to laugh when he heard my voice initially during the interview, as rarely do I get this excited, but this was a real treat for me.
What struck me most about Callie, aside from the fact that he is an engaging and easy person to interview, was the fact that he believed in the film and the character. I asked him why he chose to participate in this film and his answer was simple. He worked with Bousman in the past and liked his vision, plus he had fun the last time he worked with him.
The movie doesn’t come out in wide release for a few more days, so I’m going to wrap this up and ask that you please take a listen to the interview. Forgive me for interrupting, as I did a few times during the interview. Blame my excitement and the phone lag. I know myself, and realize I could have very easily just continued to chat and share my excitement with Mr. Callie, but I also knew I needed to get to the movie-related talking points. Hey, they don’t give you much time in these session!
This movie, aside from being a slow burn with a worthy payoff, is about atmosphere. The little details kept me on my toes and were enough that I took notice, but was never thrown off track. There are some truly wonderful performances here – Callie and Shaye especially. The payoff (The abattoir!) was scary, yet I couldn’t take my eyes off the screen. Callie gave a powerful performance, and when he was pitching his services to the gullible townsfolk, I got it. I understood WHY they believed him. He gives Julia and Declan the choice to enter his abattoir, and I believed him! For just a minute, I thought these two really had a choice, but we know neither of them did. They would enter the house under their own free will, and what happens from there, you have to see for yourself. If I’m being honest, the one thing that I didn’t like is the end, but again, see for yourself.
I guess that is why I ended up liking the film! I wasn’t given every little thing I wanted. I wasn’t spoon-fed all the answers, and as such I actually had to think and pay attention. I want that cerebral experience when it comes to a haunted house movie, and I got it.
But you know what really tickled my fancy? For my final question, I had to ask Mr. Callie what his favorite horror movie was. Imagine my surprise when he told me that he could act in them because he knew exactly who was gonna make it out alive… but he didn’t really like watching them. Nooo! He did tell me that he enjoyed the old Universal monster movies (Frankenstein is one of my favorite movies!), and when I thanked him (yet again) for talking to me and told him how much I enjoy his work, he said, “Thanks, Kid! Thank you so much!”
*sigh* How cool is that?
I give Abattoir three and a half Callie canes out of five.
Find more details of the film’s release schedule here: http://abattoir.info/