Review: Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (2012)

Directed by: Timur Bekmambetov
Starring: Benjamin Walker, Rufus Sewell, Dominic Cooper

It’s one thing for something to exist conceptually, but to fully realize that concept and translate it into something bigger, whether it be a novel or film adaptation of your own novel (I’m looking at you, Seth Grahame-Smith), is a bit daunting. This in mind, I haven’t quite seen anything like Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter before, but not in a good way. In fact, the film is so embarrassingly ignorant on so many levels that it’s literally impossible to garner any sort of affection toward its bland central characters and one-dimensional alternate historical timeline. Before this review comes off as a blatant attempt to discredit the film as a whole, let me assure you that it’s not without its moments.

Centering on the collectively wonderful 16th President of the United States and famed abolitionist, the story arc follows the titular Abe as he admirably works toward eliminating the vampire horde that’s plagued his country since the dawn of time. Sound ridiculous? That’s because it is! Silliness aside, author and screenwriter Smith does a bang-up job in inadvertently propelling Mr. Lincoln toward the abolition of slavery for all the wrong reasons. To elaborate, slave owners are in fact vampires and they merely harvest Africans for the sake of feeding on them, meaning frequent axe-wielding paves the way toward mediocre, surprisingly sparse action set pieces.

Pair a lack of what I expected to see and an altogether ugly, purposefully murky aesthetic with a self-important air about it, and you have yourselves a pretty colossal disappointment. With a script that functions as an improvisational, semi-biographical game of Mad Libs, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is nothing short of a joke that squanders the talent of its amiable male and female leads. It’s a shame Bekmambetov couldn’t recreate the gleeful absurdity that made his previous effort Wanted so inherently likable.

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