Poor treatment for Abe
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter Starring Benjamin Walker, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Rufus Sewell, Dominic Cooper. Written by Seth Grahame-Smith, directed by Timur Bekmambetov. 105 minutes, R16 (horror scenes and violence). Showing at Reading Cinemas Porirua.
Reviewed by KYLIE KLEIN-NIXON. Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president of the United States, cut kind of a cartoonish figure.
Responsible for changing the face of the US forever, kickstarting the civil rights movement with the Emancipation Proclamation, and delivering speeches which could break hearts, most kids know him only as the guy with the freaky chin beard and crazy stovepipe hat.
So it seemed somehow fitting that he should pop up in a speculative, supernatural fantasy history as a hands-on battler of evil.
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is clearly a joke, but one which I thought played on how awesome Lincoln was.
‘‘Guess what, the guy who freed the slaves? Also a vampire hunter! Amazing.’’
Imagine my discomfort at discovering the joke seems to be ‘‘Abraham Lincoln – freed the slaves because he was a vampire hunter’’.
When young Abraham Lincoln (Benjamin Walker) sees his mother killed by a vampire he sets about hunting down the beast. He’s trained to hunt by the devilishly handsome Henry Collins (Dominic Cooper) whose passion for killing the undead disguises his own terrible secret.
When ‘‘Honest Abe’’ discovers the truth they go their separate ways . . . and the rest is literally history, including the American Civil War and freedom for African Americans as a backdrop to a secret war between vampires and
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. humans. Call me a party pooper, but I have the gravest of reservations about any enterprise which makes the Underground Railway – a system of secret channels in the 1800s by which slaves and free people of colour could escape persecution and lynchings in the southern states of America – the punchline of a vampire invasion joke.
Not to mention the callous suggestion that Lincoln’s son William, who died of typhus at the age of 12, was really the victim of vampire vengeance.
There really was a fun idea in here about a larger than life political and social hero who really knew how to wield an axe when it came to evil, but the hammy acting (although our own Marton Csokas is pretty wonderful as the grimy slave master and vampire food procurer), low production values – I don’t know what it was shot on but it looks like a Sony handycam – and total absence of respect for one of the most traumatic and devastating periods in American history make for dull, uncomfortable viewing.
Poorly thought out, shoddily executed, roughly scripted, and looking like it has been edited with Lincoln’s own axe, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is one to avoid.
Abe of action: The Great Emancipator is recast as the great decapitator in bad taste history ‘lesson’