Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter…the title itself inspires schoolgirl giggles and raised eyebrows. What started off as a book is now a film and the silly premise translates well albeit a little too serious in tone.
The story highlights the years before Lincoln became the bearded man that we know so well. After his mother is murdered by a vampire, Lincoln spends years searching for the culprit. However, once he confronts the insideous villain, Lincoln is hopelessly outmatched. But out of this debacle comes a shining light – a master that will train Lincoln to hunt vampires. Under the guidance of Henry Sturges, not-so-honest Abe becomes a killer in training and is soon sent off to Springfield, Illinois to take out the vampire trash on Sturges’ hit list.
For a title with such an outrageous title, one might expect an equally absurd film but shockingly enough, this wasn’t the case. Lincoln takes it’s plot very seriously, perhaps a little too seriously – it’s dark and brooding and could honestly have done with a little more camp because in the end, it just isn’t believable anyway (also due to the many historical inaccuracies outside of the artistic liberties).
The story is compelling simply because of it’s absurdity, that doesn’t make it a good story though – it’s incredibly cliched and filled with jarring tonal shifts and a smothering vagueness. But the concept itself is a delight to entertain and this gives it an element of surprise. The soul of the film however is not really the concept, it’s Lincoln himself. Lincoln has frequently appeared as one of the most beloved heroes in history and that heroic persona makes this backstory very interesting, and Benjamin Walker does a phenominal job of conveying the celebrated president in an inspired performance.
Since the first trailer, I’ve been extremely skeptical about the 3D effects, often these concerns revolve around the lighting. as a darker colour palette isn’t very conducive to effective stereoscopy but I was pleasantly surprised to see that all the scenes were remarkably well lit. That said, the 3D is hardly necessary and doesn’t add much to the film, it’s just nice that I actually had the opportunity to see the effects in the first place.
The biggest horror in Lincoln is not the story but the consistently awful CGI. Some of the shots look so obviously fake, one might inquire as to whether this footage was ripped from a low budget video game. There are several battlefield scenes that take place during the Civil War and all of them look notably shoddy to the point of cringeworthyness…it’s not just graphically inept, but also a cinematographic eyesore
It would be a stretch to call Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, an entry into the horror genre – while it may include elements of the occult, the film is a tried and true action film with a little biopic and fantasy thrown in on the side. It’s a genre mashup but it’s still bloody good fun – pun totally intended.
The Bottom Line
On paper, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, at least for a fan of quirky horror films, should be a gold mine of material but director Timur Bekmambetov decided to take a different tonal approach to this adaptation. That essentially is Lincoln’s biggest flaw, that the untapped potential was squandered. Nevertheless, the film isn’t entirely terrible – in fact, I quite enjoyed it, especially the well choreographed fight scenes. But action isn’t enough and what could have easily become another Wild Wild West fiasco, is still a passable effort on its own merits.