As a child, Abraham Lincoln becomes aware that vampires exist after one kills his mother. When he grows older, he is taught to fight them, vowing vengeance and battles to overthrow a plot to take over the United States.
Cast: Benjamin Walker, Dominic Cooper, Anthony Mackie, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Rufus Sewell
Director: Timur Bekmambetov
It is Dominic Cooper's character who teaches him how to fight and what is required to kill a vampire, on the agreement that Lincoln will kill only those vampires that he is told to. Abe relocates to Springfield where he gets a job as a store clerk while he studies the law and kills vampires by night. He also meets and eventually marries the pretty Mary Todd. Many years later as President of the United States, he comes to realize that vampires are fighting with the Confederate forces. As a result he mounts his own campaign to defeat them.
There are a number of cool slow motion fight sequences featuring Lincoln's special manoeuvres with his trademark silver axe, chopping up numerous vampires. This is what director Timur Bekmambetov excels at, and I'm a fan of his earlier Russian vampire movies Night Watch and Day Watch, which I recommend you should check out if you're a vampire fan. They're a bit tongue in cheek - a van that can drive up the side of a building - but good fun.
I always interested to see how people re-interpret the standard vampire laws in movies. These vampire have the ability to disappear and teleport themselves short distances in order to attack their victims, which I thought worked quite well, especially effective in the battle scenes. They also have an impressive amount of teeth, similar to those in the recent Fright Night movie. Silver, which is commonly associated with dispatching werewolves, is the de facto method of killing vampires in this film, as opposed to a stake through the heart. In fact, silver becomes the primary weapon in the Battle of Gettysburg against the vampires who side with the Confederate Army in the American Civil War in their attempt to take over the United States.
It's for this reason I liked how the story of Abraham Lincoln as a vampire hunter was cleverly integrated into actual history of the US. There are quite a few scenes like this where actual history is woven into the story, not that my history of the US is all that good, but I was aware of a number of these, which I'm sure will resonate more with American readers of this blog.
It was also this reason I became a bit bored with the movie as it charted Lincoln's rise to his presidency, integrating moments with his famous speeches, and he stops being a vampire hunter for a good part of the movie until the finale. I thought they aged Lincoln and his wife well by their make-up, but Mackie's character still looked and moved like he was young.
The film is quite heavy on CGI in order to recreate scenes of the United States in the 1800's, and it is quite obvious when you are looking at a rendered town or city. The final fight on the train is also very heavy on the CGI, as is a sequence where Lincoln chases the vampire that killed his mother on horse back during a stampede. Both of these are not of a high calibre as most blockbusters are, and this for me detracted a little from the overall quality of the film.
I wasn't over taken by Benjamin Walker's performance, although Dominic Cooper, Mary Elizabeth Winstead - of Die Hard 4 (and 5?) fame - and Rufus Sewell all put in decent performances.
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is based on the biographical horror novel by Seth Grahame-Smith.