Timur Bekmambetov’s riotous take on the life of Abraham Lincoln takes historical revisionism to delightfully eccentric new heights.
"History remembers the battles but not the blood," intones the sixteenth President of the US of A at the start of Timur Bekmambetov’s riotous take on the life of Abraham Lincoln, a film which takes historical revisionism to delightfully eccentric new heights.
Honest Abe and his friends spend their years running a country on the verge of civil war while battling the evil machinations of an undead plantation owner (Rufus Sewell), who seeks to turn the Land of the Free into a vampire nation.
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter boasts strong visuals, mixing a Southern Gothic vibe with whispers of German expressionism. Its brash aesthetic is clearly influenced by its graphic novel source, while character development and narrative – a weakness in Bekmambetov’s previous work – is vastly improved by Seth Grahame-Smith’s screenplay.
Benjamin Walker impresses in the lead role, coming across as an axe-wielding hybrid of Jimmy Stewart and Van Helsing. Not there's much time spent on characterisation, however. Abe wants to end slavery and exact his personal revenge. That’s all we really need to know.
Apart from Abe and his mighty axe, the supporting cast is given little to do, although Walker and Mary Elizabeth Winstead, playing a forthright belle and third act Mrs Lincoln, share a sweet chemistry that gives their handful of scenes an endearing warmth.
Bekmambetov’s creative verve and directorial panache strengthens the barking mad material and overall concept. He’s like an eastern European version of Michael 'fuck the frame' Bay, but with such joyful and quirky abandon that the thrill becomes infectious.
The vampires, too, are not love-sick, sparkling veggies but nefarious beasts that tear out necks and drink blood with abandon. It's loopy, but Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is a blast.
Will it be fangtastic or just plain suck?
Bekmambetov is a nutter. Honest Abe kicks ass.
Move over, Twilight. This is a vamp flick with teeth.