Directed by Timur Bekmambetov
Starring Benjamin Walker, Rufus Sewell, Dominic Cooper
Running Time 105 Minutes, Rated R.
1.5 Mitch’s out of 5
Mitch Hansch/ movieswithmitch.com
Did you know that honest Abe didn’t lose his mother when he was nine year old, nor his 11 year-old son Willie both to sickness, like history tells us? Nope, turns out he lost them due to the undead vampires that then walked the union. Arguably our greatest president Abraham Lincoln didn’t just go to war with the south to bring freedom to all men but to avenge the non-vamps from those damn dirty bloodsuckers. Well, when you say it like that...
When you say it like that it pretty much comes off as a blasphemy. “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Slayer” tries to invoke the magnitude and drama of Lincoln, the Civil War, and the abolishment of slavery set to the backdrop of the sub genre of vampire horror, and this is just plain wrong. Not that it’s wrong to combine the two, it’s just wrong to be so damn patriotic about it.
“But Mitch, you’re taking a film with the title “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Slayer” way too seriously.” No I’m not, and watch your tone in my blog, I’m just taking it as serious as it takes itself. The only thing this film doesn’t take way too seriously is it’s title. “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Slayer” plays everything out as straightforward as Abe’s stove-top hat. Timur Bekmambetov, who directed the 2008 summer popcorn hit “Wanted”, made that film fun and edgy. Here, Bekmambetov is expressing big ideals with no wink at the screen inregards to the absolute silliness that is President Lincoln slaying vampires.
“But Mitch, it’s not a political film with a prez.” First off I told you to watch your tone, b) tell that to the writer and director and thirdly, it doesn’t succeed as an interesting vamp film. Not scary at all, with dull action, with just a fifth the flare and style Bekmambetov brought to “Wanted”. The vamp lore they establish in the beginning is uninspired, and some of it is broken; like the fact that we’re told that vampires can’t cause harm to each other physically to the point that they can’t even touch each other, but in the climax, the two opposing vamps wrestle each other.
The film hits three main points of Lincoln’s (played as an adult by Benjamin Walker) history. When he was a young boy we see him with his non tolerance for the treatment of the black community and how his hate for the undead after his mother died by their hands... or teeth shaped him. Next as a young man he meets Henry Sturgess (Dominic Cooper) who trains him in the way of vampire slaying through a short montage where we learn in the MOST UNNECESSARY SCENE OF THE FILM ALERT: that the truth (but really anger) is enough to make a normal man chop a tree down with only one swing of the axe. Besides looking visually cool for the film’s trailer, that bit of information serves no purpose. At no other point of the film do we see exceptional physical strength from Abe to slay vamps or save the day. He DOES use an axe to chop their heads off, but that is NOT the same as chopping down a tree with one swing. ARGGG!!!!
Around that time Abe, as you may know, moves to Springfield in 1837 and takes up work and board at Joshua Speed’s shop. The graphic novel and screenwriter Seth Grahame-Smith, puts in his not so subtle hints of Speed, played by Jimmi Simpson, having more than just best friend feelings with the prez. Grahame-Smith doesn’t give the same attributes to Abe as the only hesitance he has in taking Mary Todd (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) as his bride is the danger that comes with marrying a vampire hit man.
As Abe’s vamp hit count climbs the charts he earns the attention of the oldest vampire named Adam, get it, because of Adam and Eve? Boo. Adam is played by Rufus Sewell, who will always be remembered by me as the protagonist in my third favorite film of all time, Dark City. Poor Sewell mostly gets antagonist roles nowadays, and here you can see him not taking the material too seriously, (because you shouldn’t when its about Abraham fricken Lincoln as a vampire slayer) even though everyone else is.
Sewell’s Adam wages war with Abe, and then super abruptly we time cut to the Civil War. Huh, so let me get this straight, the Civil War started in 1861, so Adam’s legion of vamps had 20 plus years to kill their most wanted human and they didn’t?!! They not only didn’t stop him from slaying their kind, they also let him reach the highest office in the free world?!! There’s a Gilligan’s Island type tv series of that 20 years of Abe-killing futility that would be hilarious to see.
We’re shown how the Civil War had many casualties, and how the North isn’t doing so well. These scenes are tough to watch for the mere fact that it’s trying to show not only the horrors of war but America’s most important war -- a war where we almost divided in two, not on the actual issue of freedom for all men but because of the fantastical issue that vampires are planning to take over the United States of America and we can’t have that.
The bad news is the film ends with a crappy CGI train fight climax. The film ends with me not being impressed by Benjamin Walker as Abe. The film ends by taking itself way, way too seriously. The good news about it is the film ends.
The good news about it is “this” ends.