Review: “Abbey Grace” Has Nods to J-Horror, Stephen King Adaptations

The latest film distributed by Uncork’d Entertainment, Abbey Grace, comes from director Stephen Durham, best known as producer of The Butchers and Death FactoryDurham co-wrote the film with David Dittlinger for 2nd Nature FilmsDurham’s film fits nicely under 2nd Nature’s aegis and current focus of action-horror films, as it’s a tightly-focused genre exercise.

“I wonder where little girls go when they die?”

Abbey Grace takes a series of horror genre tropes and combines them into one film. There are creepy ghost kids, possession, violent mad dogs, and a cursed object, all located in and around a haunted house. Complete the package with nods to The ShiningCujo, and J-horror, and the end result is a uniquely-crafted movie.

Part of the appeal to Abbey Grace is the Midwestern location in which it’s set. Shot in the actual town in which it takes place — New Hamburg, Missouri — in the fall of 2014, Durham’s film has a certain charm which can only come from putting a movie close to home. Co-writer Dittlinger grew up in southeast Missouri, where the film’s set, and it shows. The whole of Abbey Grace has a certain sinister edge suited to the region: think the eerie, ominous Ozark tone of Winter’s Bone, but set in the river valley area near Missouri’s bootheel.

Performances are limited to just four main actors, and aside from some flashbacks, the interaction is kept to the main triad of Debbie Sheridan and Jacob Hobbs as sister and brother Stacey and Ben, along with Stacey’s BFF, Bridget, played by Amber Gallaway. The trio goes through some really rough stuff together, due to the possession of Stacey by titular spirit.

The intervention of Semi Anthony as medium Roman makes for an intriguing interlude, especially with his portrayal of a medium which is rather genre-flouting, as he’s not a middle-aged or elderly white woman, but instead a young black man. It’s a refreshing bit of casting, and his brief tenure on-screen is one of Abbey Grace’s highlights.

Abbey Grace is out via Video On-Demand, and will be available on DVD on December 6.