Movie Review: Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter
Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter is absolute shit. Please pardon me for being crass.
I could just leave it at that, because it is completely true. It’s a film that will be lampooned by future generations. It is a film that shows that Tim Burton is just as out of touch as a producer as he is as a director. It’s a film that shows that audiences won’t just show up for anything with vampires. And, most importantly, it’s a film that shows that screenwriter (and writer of the original novel) Seth Grahame-Smith is terrible at his job when he cannot even write a script that stays true to his own material. It is without a doubt one of the worst films that I’ve seen in a long time.
The book, a self-serious piece of quasi-fiction, tells the story of Abraham Lincoln from childhood. Lincoln’s actual diary is supplemented with material explaining that the sixteenth president of the United States spent his nights hunting vampires who were using the extreme slavery of the south as open buffets.
As silly as the title of the book is, it is not a comedy. The film is also not a comedy, except that it is so fucking lame that I couldn’t help but throw my hands up in the air and laugh my ass off at the incredible absurdity of it all.
The book takes its time introducing us to Lincoln, showing his difficult childhood, and following him as he learns about vampires through the years. In the film this information is almost literally dumped in his lap. Within five minutes, Lincoln is just told that vampires exist and then trained to fight them. We never get to know Lincoln outside of the information that we bring in to the theater ourselves.
Things are randomly introduced as though we knew it all along (a vampire insists that everyone knows that they have the power to raise the dead despite this not being a normal vampire behavior, nor explained earlier in the film). Characters are intoduced with little explaination or motivation. Lincoln stops being a active character when the third act rolls around and he becomes president. Look, I get it, it stretches credibility if a 50-year-old Lincoln is still busting vampire heads, but when your only active character stops being active it severely limits the narrative.
The dialogue is hammy at best, completely pants-on-head idiotic at worst. And what’s worse is that none of the cast (save Benjamin Walker as Lincoln, who is an actor I’d like to see more from despite being involved with this drivel) can deliver this dialogue and not sound like two bit dinner theater actors. And I’m not talking about unfamiliar B-movie actors; Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Mary Todd sounds completely bored and unable to deliver this dreck compellingly. Geek hero Alan Tudyk as Stephen Douglas sounds like a complete buffoon with these words.
Director Timur Bekmambetov must have loved The Matrix, because he spends half the movie trying to emulate the action in that classic film. As much fun as The Matrix is, it’s also almost 14-years-old. It’s high time that directors find new inspiration for their action sequences. But Bekmambetov is insistent on slow-motion wire-fu action sequences with people doing extraordinary feats. Not the vampires, mind you, but regular ‘ol humans. Abraham Lincoln might be the star, but he’s still meant to be a human, yet he’s able to bounce across the backs of stampeding horses and even survives having a horse thrown straight at him. Let that sink in; Abraham Lincoln is hit with the weight of a full grown mustang, brushes the dirt off, and runs back into the fight.
Bekmambetov can’t decide whether the film is going to look over-the-top cartoony or like a historical epic, but guess what? Both styles look like straight up junk. The historical epic style is poorly lit, and the cartoony look is, well, way too cartoony.
As a perfect cherry on the top of this shit sundae, the film is presented in both 2D and 3D. If you’re seeing it in 2D, be prepared for the tired “shit flying out of the screen” gag. It happens too frequently to be a coincidence and it looks downright awful.
Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter is several magnitudes of awful. The number of poor choices that went into the making of this film are astounding. It’s the kind of movie that I would only watch if I were expressly looking to watch a terrible film for the purpose of mocking it. The saddest part is that the book showed some promise, but more and more is looking like an outlier in Seth Grahame-Smith’s increasingly depressing resume. Stay away from this trash at all costs.