Release date: 22 June 2012
Starring: Benjamin Walker, Rufus Swell, Dominic Cooper, Director: Timur Bekmambetov
Duration: 105 min
Rating: stars: 2.5 stars out of 5 stars
At the age of 9, Abraham Lincoln witnesses his mother being killed by a vampire, Jack Barts. Some 10 years later, he unsuccessfully tries to eliminate Barts but in the process makes the acquaintance of Henry Sturgess who teaches him how to fight and what is required to kill a vampire. The quid pro quo is that Abe will kill only those vampires that Henry directs him to. Abe relocates to Springfield where he gets a job as a store clerk while he studies the law and kills vampires by night. He also meets and eventually marries the pretty Mary Todd. Many years later as President of the United States, he comes to realize that vampires are fighting with the Confederate forces. As a result he mounts his own campaign to defeat them
King of the costume-horror literary mash-up genre is Seth Grahame-Smith, whose novel Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is still in development as a movie. Its fate may rest on whether the secret career of America’s 16th president in the field of undead annihilation – derived from Grahame-Smith’s other see-what-I-did-there bestseller – pans out as a summer blockbuster.
You’d have to say the answer is touch and go. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter could have been a game enough one-joke spoof of the historical biopic, lampshading its own silliness and livening up the joint with decapitations when required. Instead, it’s played dead straight, which is all a bit curious.
When Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln, with Daniel Day-Lewis in the role here played by solid novice Benjamin Walker, is released to qualify for Oscars at the end of the year, you can expect to see Timur Bekmambetov’s flick automatically cited as the livelier alternative, but if this is the fun one, it’s hard to imagine what the fun-free one is going to be like. Whizzily digital slow-motion mêlées are Bekmambetov’s thing, as the Russian-Kazakh director has shown in his cumulatively exhausting Night Watch (2004) and Day Watch (2006), but they have a video-game unreality here that stifles engagement.
A chase sequence over the backs of stampeding horses is a sallow nightmare of barely-intelligible CGI. The movie needed a Joss Whedon-ish lightness of touch, essentially, but it’s brought to us by chefs who lack the patience for a decent soufflé. Grahame-Smith’s screenplay, preserving his book’s diary format, trades wit for an earnest cod-historical register that makes heavy weather of its big metaphor.
“We’re all slaves to something!” explains Rufus Sewell’s arch-vamp villain. It’s not all bad, by any means. The storytelling has a certain Saturday-matinee verve, and there’s some mileage, without going all David Icke, in the notion of secret societies infecting America’s soul down the generations.
See the official movie web site: http://www.abelincolnvampirehunter.com/
We also Suggest: The possession, Final Destination 5, The lords of Salem, 11-11-11, Playback, Twixt.