Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. It is most certainly an interesting and intriguing title, but could it possibly be more than a one joke movie? Writer Seth Grahame-Smith, after having already penned Tim Burton’s unfortunately boring Dark Shadows this year, brings his own book to the silver screen. And, thankfully, it is not quite as tedious. The film follows the untold story of the United State’s sixteenth President, in which his rise to the top is made even more impressive by the fact he hunts the living dead by night. There is actually a promising premise running through the script about the southern vampires, led by Adam (Rufus Sewell; The Tourist, Dark City), using the slaves as their main food source and how that ties in with the Civil War and thus Lincoln’s actual real life.
However, overall the story mainly makes room for the ridiculously over the top action scenes. Director Timur Bekmambetov - who previously brought us the better, albeit equally over the top, Wanted – orchestrates a couple of genuinely thrilling and original set pieces, including a Lincoln versus Vampire fight amid a herd of galloping – and, no doubt, rather taken aback - horses. He also gives us plenty of slow motion axes to vampire face/neck/torsos with accompanying CGI blood splatter that, depending on one’s taste, may well be somewhat overused.
The title character is played by Benjamin Walker, who looks like a young Liam Neeson and was actually used as so in Kinsey. It is actually hard to believe Tom Hardy was the first choice for the role of Lincoln, only turning it down due to scheduling issues with The Dark Knight Rises. Hardy is extremely adaptable, but Walker really becomes Lincoln - or at least the image of Lincoln that we all have - and convincingly acts several different ages within the man’s lifetime. Now, the vampires…Obviously an important part of any vampire film. There are, unfortunately, three flaws/personal pet hates with the movie’s undead. One, they walk around in the daylight; two, their whole face changes when they attack; and three, they have the ability to turn invisible. The invisibility is okay in itself, however, it just created unnecessary suspension of disbelief and raised questions as to why the bloodsuckers ever attacked their prey in full visibility.
For all the film’s problems, though, the main reason why Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter does not work is because it’s fantastically ridiculous concept is played completely seriously and devoid of humour. Perhaps that was the joke. However, by its very nature, it was not a funny one.
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter website