By Anna Sadovskaya, Managing Arts Editor
Published June 27, 2012
Abraham Lincoln, the esteemed 16th president of the United States, is a vampire hunter. Wielding his silver axe and pocket watch in the name of vampire-slain victims, Lincoln fights the nefarious undead, managing to abolish slavery in the process.
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter
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Though history classes have managed to skip over this intensely badass background story, Timur Bekmambetov and Tim Burton’s film “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” highlights and exposes the dark underbelly of 19th-Century America.
Based on Seth Grahame-Smith’s novel of the same name, “Vampire Hunter” follows Abe (Benjamin Walker, “Kinsey”) from childhood to death and all the greatness in between. After witnessing the death of his mother by vampire bite, Lincoln vows to avenge her by going after as many vampires as it takes.
Highly stylized and calculating, the movie succeeds in creating a realistic, visually gratifying world. What if Lincoln really had been a vampire hunter? What if slavery was the result of blood-hungry vampires and their need to feed? Director Bekmambetov answers the questions in impressive fashion, allowing the film to bypass “campy” on its search for a fantastical version of reality.
In typical Burton fashion, the film also takes a step into the terrifying unknown. When Henry Sturgess (Dominic Cooper, “My Week with Marilyn”) first offers his vampire-hunting expertise to Lincoln, a sense of foreboding follows the exchange; the feeling of stepping into unfamiliar territory. Despite the entirety of the plot being steeped in fang-fiction, moments still feel genuine and surprising, once again emphasizing the believability of the created world.
Where “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” stumbles is in it’s delivery. Relying on its vampire curb-appeal, the movie decides to shy away from hilarity, instead deciding to focus on the action and seriousness of a would-be vampire outbreak.
The film wants to be a more-awesome version of reality, employing the tried-and-true recipe of adding a twist to established storylines. And though actors wear their grim and war-torn faces well, they don’t mask the inevitable predictability of the film: Whether it’s for the benefit of people or for the eradication of the head-vampires Adam (Rufus Sewell, “The Illusionist”) and Vadoma (supermodel Erin Wasson), Lincoln runs for president. Whether abolishing slavery for equal rights or the freedom of humanity from vampires, Lincoln still fights against the tyranny of the south.
Vampires are not enough of an incentive to produce a movie, and despite the visually enticing scenery and cinematography, “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” can’t keep the high-energy pace. Vampires don’t necessarily mean instant excitement, and a vampire-hunting Abraham Lincoln is only moderately more impassioned then the classic top-hate Abe.