In this ludicrous actioner, the great unifier turns out to be as good at public speaking as he is at murdering vampires with an axe....
Fox / 105 Minutes / 2012 / Rated R / Street Date: October 23, 2012
What ends up being so shocking - and somehow disappointing - about Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is how straight-laced it is. A movie with a title like this one should broadcast rampant meta craziness, taking the calm, collected visage of Honest Abe and turning it completely on its ass, allowing our collective recognition of $5 bill imagery collide with the bloody thrill of zombie-invasion horror flick violence. Instead, though, it's pretty... normal.
This feature-length strive toward a sort of miscalculated narrative legitimacy takes all the bite (har har) out of any camp potential Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter might have. Instead of concocting a paper-thin excuse for our impossibly tall former president to take a pick-axe to as many bloodsuckers as possible, director Timur Bekmambetov aims for an ill-fitting realism of sorts that keeps the film from taking on a life of its own. For a silly, insanely dumb movie like this one, its creative teams truly try to serious about its dramatic elements.
In the alternate universe within the realm of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, we learn that Abe's (Benjamin Walker's) mom was a victim of the bloodsucking monster Jack Barts (Martin Csokas), after an attack on the Lincoln homestead. Abe vows revenge for this odious act, and thankfully gets an extensive lesson in how to destroy the undead from vampire hunter Henry Sturges (Dominic Cooper). And this vengeance quest merges with grander story epics - and a bigger, badder nemesis played by the scenery-chewing Rufus Sewell - as Abe strives to save the union in the Civil War by day and hacks away at vampires at night.
It's not even all that fun to watch. The postmodern concept of taking famous figures or scenarios and throwing them into fantastically inane story threads is somewhat irresistible (like that fun Pride & Prejudice & Zombies novel), but Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is a big bust of a finished film, a movie that neither revels in its blood-spattered stupidity nor offers anything of contemplative note in its fever-dream genre chaos.