Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter is an unlikely combination promising the ultimate combination. Seeing president Abe go about hacking vamps with an axe sounds like one of the best ideas ever, as long as its done in a kitschy, self-aware way. Lincoln has his trademark beard as a child and goes ‘It’s Lincoln Time’ before slaying vamps and a great time awaits. Of course, they don’t do any of this and they make the film a fairly serious action romp. Time to get the axe out.
Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter loosely follows the history of Abe (Benjamin Walker) and inserts vampires into it. South America had so many troubles back in the day because of vampires, vampires took Abe’s mother and he became a vampire hunter during his youth before becoming president. The vampires slot into the history without too many hitches and they manage to fit them in with the war and Abe’s own convictions. But the film bogs the audience down with dull conversations between Abe and his vampire hunter mentor Henry (Dominic Cooper) or Abe romancing Mary Todd (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) which set up the characterisation and plot, but don’t offer any emotion or interest. It feels like the movie genuinely wants us to take this all seriously, but after a long scene of Abe acting like a wet blanket, we move onto him spinning off walls and axing vampires in the head in slow-mo. Or just spinning his axe around like a street performer as part of his training.
Scenes don’t mesh together because of the lack of style and feeling in the quiet lulls and the action scenes themselves miss a certain spark thanks to the repetitive nature of the action and lack of response from characters. A few cheesy one liners would have really brought some life to the characters fighting and wouldn’t feel out of place with the concept at all. There is one scene in which Abe’s best mate William Johnson (Anthony Mackie) shoots a silver bullet into a vampires head and Will ends up next to this dead vampire who happens to be looking at him. A ‘what are you looking at?’ comment felt like such a missed opportunity, much like most of the film then. It has a solid enough plot to move it all along, but the hilarious over the top fight scenes and serious political talks and relationships bat off one another. The fighting and the talking seem completely separate.
Abraham Lincoln feels confused as it steps between comic book and po-faced, and while the action scenes can be impressive on the big screen, it all boils down to Abe laying the smackdown on a bunch of vampires who turn into idiots when silver is involved. The real history is more interesting. It’s Lincoln time!