Release date: October 22nd, 2012
Certificate (UK): 15
Running time: 100 minutes
Director: Timur Bekmambetov
Writers: Seth Grahame-Smith, Simon Kinberg
Cast: Benjamin Walker, Dominic Cooper, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Anthony Mackie, Jimmi Simpson, Rufus Sewell
History is a funny thing isn’t it? Most of the time we’re never actually there to witness it and so we rely on those who were to record the events that took place and trust in what’s been passed down over the ages to us as the truth. Yet it doesn’t always work out that way, and like Winston Churchill once said, history is written by the victors. It doesn’t even begin to tell half of what really happened.
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, based on the 2010 novel by Seth Grahame-Smith, sets out tell us an alternate story of what we’ve come to know about the 16th President of the United States who was assassinated on Good Friday, April 14th, 1865.
Starting in 1818 when he was just a small boy who saw his mother killed by ruthless plantation owner Jack Barts (Marton Csokas), Abraham Lincoln (Benjamin Walker) grows up with vengeance on his mind. When he gets his chance to kill him, Abraham realises Barts’ abilities are anything but human, but it’s only when he meets vampire hunter Henry Sturgess (Dominic Cooper) that he comes to learn that not only do vampires exist, but that Barts was just a small fish in a sea full of sharks including Adam (Rufus Sewell) and his sister Vadoma (Erin Wasson) who plan to turn the United States into a nation of the undead.
Sturgess agrees to train Abraham to become a vampire hunter on the condition that he’ll not go on to form any close relationships. This agreement soon goes out the window when he becomes romantically involved with Mary Todd (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and re-acquainted with his childhood friend William Johnson (Anthony Mackie) who’s an African American, as well as becoming friends with shopkeeper Joshua Speed (Jimmi Simpson).
With Sturgess having his own reasons for wanting Adam dead and Abraham beginning his political career and campaigning to abolish slavery, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter packs a lot into its 100 minutes. The action and effects look great with the shots slowing down at just the right moments for us to see Abraham’s axe twirl and the bullets make impact, but there are some weak moments in the film too.
At times the pacing seems off and this is most noticeable in the first forty minutes or so where I struggled to maintain an interest, but it picks up again allowing for its climax to deliver both in spectacle and action as we see Abraham and his team attacked by Adam and a legion of vampires on a train carrying silver.
With its historic backdrop, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter offers an interesting take on an influential figure we’ve mostly come to take for granted these days. It’s also renewed my interested in the real Lincoln – a man history tells us was from a poor family and was mostly self-educated, but who would go on to lead the United States through its greatest constitutional, military and moral crisis in the 19th century.
The founder of Static Mass Emporium and one of its Editors in Chief is a composer and music producer with a philosophy degree. Static Mass is where he lives his passion for film and writing about it. A fan of film classics, documentaries and World Cinema, Patrick prefers films with an impeccable way of storytelling that reflect on the human condition.
You can find his music on Soundcloud .