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Review: Madman assembles house of death in bizarre ‘Abattoir’

Jessica Lowndes and Joe Anderson in the movie "Abattoir."
Jessica Lowndes and Joe Anderson in the movie “Abattoir.”
(Momentum Pictures)

If nothing else, the sloppy horror/noir hybrid “Abattoir” is the weirdest effort yet from cult director Darren Lynn Bousman — and that’s saying something, given that he once helmed the 2008 splatter musical “Repo! The Genetic Opera.”

Jessica Lowndes stars as real-estate reporter Julia Talben, who looks into why someone bought the house where her sister was murdered and then transported the room where it happened to a forgotten small town called New English. Julia’s investigation leads her to fiery evangelical preacher Jebediah Crone (played by the always colorful Dayton Callie), who has spent years constructing a one-of-a-kind haunted house in the middle of nowhere using only pre-existing rooms where brutal slayings have occurred.

All of that’s bizarre enough, but it doesn’t explain why Bousman and screenwriter Christopher Monfette have Julia and her detective ex-boyfriend (Joe Anderson) looking and talking like they just stepped out of a 1940s Hollywood B-picture, or why “Abattoir” spends so much of its running time establishing a mythology so complicated that it’s already spilled over into a comic book prequel.

The inexplicability of “Abattoir” keeps it engaging for a while, but by the time it hits the one-hour mark without anything even remotely exciting happening, even a horror connoisseur’s patience will run thin. Ultimately, this film has a memorable villain and a stunning location, and not much else. It even skimps on those two assets, holding them back for a franchise that may never exist.

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‘Abattoir’

Not rated

Running time: 1 hour, 39 minutes

Playing: Arena Cinelounge, Hollywood

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