Four gore and seven years ago…
By the time we’re probably about 10 years old, if not younger, we all know who Abraham Lincoln is and we continue to learn about him throughout out lives. And because of this we all know the major talking points about him. He freed the slaves, saved the Union, and was assassinated in a theater (there’s obviously a lot more, but I’m not writing a biography here). But what if there was more to him than what we knew in our history books?
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, based off the book of the same name, is the fun, over-the-top, action-packed ‘what if?’ story about out 16th President and if the driving force behind many of his greatest moments in history was really all just part of his unending campaign to destroy the undead bloodsuckers.
Starting off in his early childhood with his parents as indentured servants, Abe rushes to the aide of an African-American friend of his named Will Johnson who was being whipped for no good reason. When the taskmaster looks to strike Abe as well for interjecting, Abe’s father rushes in and strikes the man. The landowner that Abe’s family works for doesn’t take kindly to this and threatens to collect all his debts that evening. And indeed he does as that night, the man enters the Lincoln home, reveals himself as a vampire, and drains Abe’s mother right before his eyes as he peered through the cracks in the bunk above. Thus, Abe’s lifelong quest for vengeance began.
It is also after this that the movie quickly changes pace from something a bit more suspenseful to straight up action with a small dose of comedy along the way. If you’re looking to be scared folks, this definitely isn’t the movie for you. If you’re looking for some deep, moving experience, look elsewhere. If you’re looking for a dude dressed like Abe Lincoln to act like a badass and chop off vampires’ heads with an axe, you’ve come to the right place, and in that regard, this movie is very solid.
The fight scenes are well planned out and indeed, young Abe, and even older Abe, comes off looking like someone who knows well what he’s doing. And with the History channel-like narration, you almost believe that this could have all actually happened as the movie does a wonderful job of buying so deeply into the idea of vampires being a real threat to the well-being of our nation in the mid-19th century.
The acting is also solid throughout from all major players, but Dominic Cooper as Henry Sturges, Abe’s vamp killing mentor, and Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Mary Todd Lincoln steal the show though on the whole.
The only real drawbacks I think for the movie is the fact that the character development is relatively weak, especially when it comes to Abe’s training as a vampire hunter, which very much used the montage method to blow through it. The definition of the vampire menace was also very unclear, relying on only a few lines of dialogue to explain the differences between the vampires Abe faces and the ones people have come to expect from other forms of media. For example, the vampires in this movie can go in the sun, whereas it is widely accepted that this is the one true weakness to the undead.
Aside from this though, if you’re looking for some mindless fun from a well-made action flick, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is a solid choice. Good acting, great action sequences, a little bit of humor, and even a few nods to history that folks might find enjoyable round out a solid night at the movies.