Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.
I was hesitant about this movie, as it seemed like a such a ridiculous movie but I was actually pleased with how enjoyable parts of it were. There’s a lot wrong with the movie but there’s plenty of things for the casual moviegoer to enjoy.
The basic gist. Abraham Lincoln, the US’s 16th president, secretly trained to be a vampire hunter after vampires killed his family. The story follows him from a child all the way through the Civil War and shows the behind-the-scenes looks at the secret war he was waging against vampire-kind.
Knowing that director Timur Bekmambetov (Wanted, Day Watch, Night Watch) was at the helm might give you an indication of what this film is like. The combat scenes are fun and make intense use of slow-motion to show you all the blood-splattering-goodness you’d expect from a movie like this. The fight scenes are pretty incredible and fun to watch but the fault lies in the story that holds these scenes together (which I’ll get to in a bit).
The movie is set mostly in the South, so a lot of scenes seem vaguely familiar from the likes of Interview with the Vampire or True Blood. Aside from the sense of deja vu, these aesthetics usually work quite well. There’s a few huge action pieces that are pretty original but the movie starts to fall apart when we look at visual effects (again, I’ll get to that).
What doesn’t work?
Let’s talk visuals first. Although the scope of the movie sometimes gets pretty incredible, including scenes like a horse stampede alongside a dangerous cliff and a train driving over a wooden bridge that is on fire and crumbling… the visuals often let these scenes down. The CGI work was generally unimpressive. And while combat was pretty creative, the effects used for the vampires was a little too much for me, as their jaws dislocated and they looked like some version of Baraka from the Mortal Kombat games.
And while the story is so ridiculous that it veers towards creative, it’s incredibly shallow. It’s a basic revenge story in a similar structure as the Kill Bill films, as Abraham stalks and kills vampires until he eventually reaches the head honcho. But the fault here, is that we know nothing about these vampires and we really don’t care when Abraham eventually kills one of them. It also doesn’t help that we have two “I’ve seen that guy somewhere before…” actors cast in these parts that have played villains many times over. Both Rufus Sewell (A Knight’s Tale, The Holiday) and Marton Csokas (Kingdom of Heaven, Bourne Supremacy) both do a decent job but they have very little to work with. My investment in Abraham’s journey was minimal.
This isn’t a great film. But it’s a fun one. Watching Abraham Lincoln swinging an axe and destroying vampires is like something from my 5th grade sketch book. It’s fun and the combat is creative but the effects and the story as a whole left me unsatisfied. But if you’re looking for escapism in one of its purest forms, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter may give you that fix you’ve been looking for.