REVIEW: Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter
105 minutes. Rating: 18+. Director: Timur Bekmambetov. Starring: Benjamin Walker, Dominic Cooper, Anthony Mackie.
Friday 13 July 2012, 12:46PM
Rivalling last year’s Cowboys and Aliens for the most ridiculous title in film history, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter also falls into a similar trap – taking its rather campy subject matter far too seriously.
As the title may suggest, the film focuses on the story of the 16th President of the USA, and more specifically, his moonlighting career as a slayer of the walking dead.
Covering both Abe’s political and supernatural rise to power, the mashup film is exactly what viewers will probably from a Tim Burton-produced, Timur Bekmambetov (Wanted, 9) directed film about an axe-wielding president who fights to free America from slavery and an army of blood-sucking demons.
In saying that, it was always going to be a tricky balancing act trying to juggle the campy premise and caricaturish action with the alt-history tie ins and presidential drama.
At times it works, and the history and fiction are stitched together seamlessly in ways that make both sides of the story more interesting.
But many of the other moments depend too much on thin and overly contrived supernatural explanations for real events, and the efforts made to combine the film’s two wildly different genres feel incredibly forced.
For a film with such a ridiculous premise, it’s also a shame that more comedy wasn’t worked into Seth Grahame-Smith’s screenplay. Indeed the whole movie is ultimately based on just a single joke, and it can’t carry the rest of the feature-length runtime’s dark, overtly serious tone.
Still, there are some impressively gory action sequences to be enjoyed for fans of the vampire sub-genre, and while the axe-versus-vampire sequences can be a little too flashy and at times hard to follow, Bekmambetov utilises some effective slow motion to showcase Lincoln’s stylish slaying techniques – with plenty of blood splatter to boot.
And besides, if the idea of an undead-slaying US President seems a little too ridiculous, count your blessings that we haven’t yet seen Grahame-Smith’s other well-known horror mashup novel, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, on the big screen.