I recently covered the release of Abruptio, and the trailer, images and description intrigued me, so I gave it a watch. Before I get into my review, let’s recap the background of this very interesting, very unique film.
As you might imagine, a horror film comprised only of puppets was quite a feat for Abruptio’s creator/director Evan Marlowe. The voice recording began back in 2015, so this was a very long and intricate process. No CGI effects were used, and there were no actors wearing prosthetics. What we see on screen are extremely (often disturbingly) realistic puppets voiced by a lot of very well-known genre actors.
The story goes like this: Les Hackel is going through a trying time in his life. He still lives at home with his mom, his girlfriend just broke up with him, and he drinks too much. To make matters worse, he wakes up one morning to find that a strange device has been implanted in the back of his neck.
That strange device, as it turns out, is a bomb. He knows this because his best friend Danny has one as well, and he informs Les that if the two of them don’t follow instructions given to them, the bombs will explode. These orders are awful, by the way, usually involving instructions to kill people, and each assignment sees Les working with different characters.
The characters in Abruptio are interesting and well-acted
Les is voiced by James Marsters, who fans most likely remember as Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I have to admit, I am always shocked to hear him speak in his natural American accent; his British accent for the character of Spike was so iconic, that I always think of him that way.
As Les, Marsters completely sells the somewhat schlubby character he plays. He just goes through his daily life passively, bossed around by his mother, ridiculed by his girlfriend, stuck in a dead end job – at least until the bomb in his neck changes everything.
Jordan Peele voices Les’s buddy Danny as a sort of doofus, but his role is rather small. Hana Mae Lee (who played the super-quiet Lily in Pitch Perfect and the psychotic Sonia in The Babysitter) voices Chelsea, a young college student who ends up teaming up with Les. She is fantastic, portraying Chelsea as a sweet, somewhat innocent character. But as innocent as she is, Chelsea proves to be very helpful to Les.
Other actors lending their voices to the characters Les encounters include the late Sid Haig (House of 1000 Corpses), Robert Englund (A Nightmare on Elm Street) and Christopher McDonald (The Watcher). I hesitate to say too much more about the plot for Abruptio, because there is a deep mystery involved. Why does Police Chief Richter keep insisting that Les needs to “confess”? Where did these neck bombs originate from, and what’s the ultimate end game for them?
Abruptio keeps the viewer enthralled throughout as we try to figure out the puzzle of just what the heck is going on. And there is plenty of blood and gore presented, so horror fans should be satisfied with that. Bodies fed into a machine splatter blood all over the characters, gunshots and knife wounds do the same. It’s definitely a horror film…with the twist of those awesome puppets. Some of them actually look like a mashup of puppet and human, particularly the character of Dennis, the cop who seems to enjoy employing a bit of torture into the interrogation process.
Abruptio is a trippy, enthralling film, a treat for the eyes and the brain. The visuals are eye-popping, and the level of voice talent and writing takes it over the top. It looks like a perfect fit for Shudder, so fingers crossed!
Abruptio will be available to watch via Cinejoy Virtual this month, and 1428 Elm will let you know when it will be available to stream.
How do you feel about offbeat horror films like Abruptio? Tell us about it in the comments section.