Film Review: “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter”

by Gordon Elgart on June 22, 2012

Benjamin Walker as Abraham Lincoln, readying his axe of justice.

Directed by: Timur Bekmambetov

Written by: Seth Grahame-Smith

Starring: Benjamin Walker, Rufus Sewell and Dominic Cooper

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is, at its heart, a low budget exploitation movie. That it’s actually a high budget studio film does not change this one bit. It’s a Troma Film, but probably cost more than all of Troma’s films combined. The acting is fairly horrible across the board, scenes just happen with no context, and the amount of gore is ridiculous. Add to that the dark, poorly lit quality of many of the action sequences, and you’re left with the framework of an outright terrible film — an illogically entertaining, terrible film.

I’m not going to necessarily put this in the “so bad it’s good” category because it’s better than that. It’s more like the movie is enjoyable in spite of its flaws. Let’s start with those:

  • Either scenes are missing, or they happen in the wrong order for this type of movie. When Abe Lincoln meets the man who will train him to become a vampire hunter, he has his stunning breakthrough in the first scene, and then we get the training montage. Everyone knows it’s supposed to be a montage that either ends with, or includes, the stunning breakthrough. And in one scene Mary Todd (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) is engaged to Stephen Douglas (Alan Tudyk), and in the next, Abe is asking to marry her. Something’s missing here.
  • Stop, stop, stop, stop, stop with the crappy 3D conversions! This needs to end! Right now! Hollywood, you are ruining your movies for millions of people! This may be the worst offender yet, as darkness is a key aspect of this movie, and the 3D lenses just make everything even darker. It’s frankly impossible to see what’s happening in some of the action scenes. The director has chosen to color the film in a way that makes it look older, but it just looks dark and murky.
  • Some of the action sequences are so cleverly conceived, but then executed horribly. Again with the darkness, but this time there’s continual fog effects to hide the poor quality special effects being used here. There’s a fight scene among a pack of wild horses that’s so ridiculous, it should be revolutionary. Instead, it’s just a foggy mess.

But wait, I said I had a fun time here! Why’s that? There’s a silliness about the whole affair, dropping in bits and pieces from history and then changing history in fun ways — for example, the South wasn’t fighting for slavery; rather, the rights of the undead. Each time a famous name or situation is dropped in, there was real laughter in the audience. Most of the action scene money shots (heads being chopped off, blood spurting, catch phrases) were met with applause. I found myself a bit swept up in it, I’ll admit.

Of course, the real question is, would I recommend you see it? I think this would be the perfect sort of movie to sneak a beer into. Similar to Drive Angry, the premise is so ridiculous and the situations so crazy, you can’t help but appreciate it on some level. Were it actually a well made film, I’d be overjoyed to recommend it to you.

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter opens nationwide today.

Gordon Elgart

A music nerd who probably uses that term too much. I have a deep love for bombastic, quirky and dynamic music.

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