Abigail Star Melissa Barrera Hid A Dracula Easter Egg In Her Character's Name

Ballerina vampire movie "Abigail" might be set in the Boston area, but it was filmed almost entirely on location in Dublin — once the home of "Dracula" author Bram Stoker. During a visit to the set of "Abigail" last year, I also visited the 300-year-old library frequented by Stoker, whose signature can still be seen in the visitor's book. Though the figure of the vampire existed in folklore before "Dracula," Stoker's version of the creature became the blueprint for the modern vampire in pop culture. Notably, the quirk of vampires having no reflection originated with Stoker's novel.

Dracula is also one of the original Universal Monsters, so when Universal returned to the vampire pool for "Abigail," star Melissa Barrera felt it was only appropriate to include a little nod to Stoker's novel. Though each member of the heist crew hired to kidnap little Abigail has a "rat pack" name to conceal their true identities from one another, Barrera worked with directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett to come up with her character's real name: Ana Lucía Cruz. Barrera wanted "Ana Lucía" as a reference to Lucy Westenra, who in Stoker's novel falls prey to Dracula and becomes a vampire herself.

That name might seem like a bad omen, but fortunately, Barrera chose the last name "Cruz," meaning a cross or crucifix — "something that would kill a vampire, something that would protect you from a vampire." This is another nod to Stoker, who introduced the idea of vampires being repelled by the sight of the cross. Early on in "Dracula," Jonathan Harker is given a crucifix necklace as a gift by a Transylvanian stranger, and the symbol protects him from Dracula's bloodlust during his stay at the castle. Perhaps the cross in Ana Lucía's name will save her from suffering Lucy's fate.

A Scream family reunion

That wasn't the only change that Barrera brought to her character's name. "Abigail" marks her third time working with Bettinelli-Olpin and Gillett, following her breakout starring role in "Scream," which she reprised for "Scream VI." Still, she didn't want to just sleepwalk her way into their next project. "I didn't even mention it to them at all," she says. "I never wanted to be like, 'Hey, cast me because you know me.' I went through my team and I was like, 'I wanna audition for them.'" 

When the directing duo heard she was interested, though, they were keen to make another movie with Barrera. She got the lead role — a character who, in the script, went by the "rat pack" name Sammy. That was a problem, since Barrera's character in the "Scream" movies is called Sam Carpenter, and audiences might have mistaken "Abigail" for a very wild left turn in the "Scream" franchise. To avoid confusion, the name Sammy went to Kathryn Newton's punky hacker character, and Barrera's tough ex-military medic was given the pseudonym Joey. With that minor speed bump out of the way, Barrera says it was smooth sailing:

"It's such a privilege when you get to just make movies with friends. And that's what they [are], they've become like my family at this point. And there's such a shorthand, like, they know how I work, they know how they need to talk to me to get what they need out of me. And I can basically read their minds. I know when they love something, I know when they don't like something — it's just become so intuitive between the three of us that it's super fun."

"Abigail" arrives in theaters on April 19, 2024. Tickets are on sale now.