: Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter
I’ve never read the novel and I didn’t see any previews so I had very little idea what to expect. I did accidentally see a Rotten Tomato splat, meaning that critics didn’t like this, but I don’t know why. I got just what I expected: Abraham Lincoln killing vampires.
I wasn’t sure if the ton of this would be cartoonish and jokey or if it would take the premise seriously, and I’m pleased to report it is the latter. There are of course many liberties taken with history, but the film isn’t a comic. The vampires are modern and rather scary in vampire form (more monstery than most vampire movies). There’s definitely a lot of blood as Lincoln’s weapon of choice is a sliver-bladed ax. We follow Lincoln’s grow from a child (where his mom is killed by a vamp) to his manhood where he learns his trade of killing vampires while studying law and working at shop and eventually gets into politics. Once he’s president, the war between vampires and humans is set up along the same lines as the Civil War (the vamps are the South).
I wouldn’t say there’s anything extraordinary or remarkable about this premise, the story, or the execution, though it is fun. I really liked the filmmaking style, which has some playful elements similar to the techniques of Zack Snyder. For instance, one of the flashbacks begins with a historical oil painting and then the painting comes to life with all the stuff happening in oil paintery style. In another sequence, items on a map animate and become part of the film. It’s surreal, and a bit over-the-top, but it adds to the fun of the movie.
The story is where the film is the weakest. Nothing much happens and what does is fairly predictable. There are hints that things could have been deeper, such as exploring the conflict between Lincoln and Douglas, and while the character of Mary Todd was charming and definitely had her moments, the romance between the two was oddly incomplete for being such an important part of the proceedings (it was never clear to me why she fell for Lincoln and what happened to her fiance, Douglas). There is some depth in the best friend black characters and the issue of slavery and the conflict with the South, but it doesn’t go very deep and is just the stereotypes of greedy slave owners and righteous Northerners we get with most Civil War portraits. (I would have much preferred if the film had explored the vampire-slave metaphor more and provided us with some important lessons about racial issues.)
Still, overall the film is enjoyable. Again, nothing earth-shattering, but well-done and it lives up to its title. Probably not for all tastes, but if the title appeals to you, you’ll probably get a kick out of the flick.