I should preface this by saying if fantasy/action/horror movies involving vampires are really not your thing, nothing I write after this paragraph will make you want to see “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter”. It is 105 minutes of fantasy, action, horror and vampire, no way to get around that. But if you can tolerate those types of films or even, dare I suggest it, LIKE those kind of films yet you’re still balking at plunking down your cash for director Timur Bekmambetov’s adaptation of Seth Grahame-Smith’s novel, hopefully I can convince you that it’s worth your money and time.
Usually, if I haven’t read the source material a film is based on I don’t go see the movie until I have. But something drew me to this movie before I even cracked the binding on my copy of “Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter”. Maybe it was the promise of seeing Benjamin Walker’s lanky frame becoming Honest Abe or maybe I was just in the mood to watch vampires get killed in preparation for another episode of “True Blood”? For whatever reasons, I got myself to a movie theater for the early showing of ALVH and sat in a half-filled theater with relatively low expectations.
It seems that the movie has been much maligned based mostly on its title and the brief synopsis used to describe it. “Abe Lincoln killed vampires before he became President”. It sounds silly. Some might even say it sounds disrespectful to the 16th President. The filmmakers and Seth Grahame-Smith deserve a lot of credit for turning something that could be silly into something legitimately compelling and a bit frightening as well.
If the acting, which is top-notch, doesn’t pull you in, the original storyline should. How many films are made each year that take a story and rehash it? There seem to be very few original stories left to be told, which is the absolute beauty of Grahame-Smith’s story. Sure vampires have been done to death and in using Lincoln you need to work within some factual guidelines, but Grahame-Smith has taken the things that folks already know and turned them on their side. In ‘Vampire Hunter’, every time you think you figured out what is going to happen, you get proven wrong. The execution of this story is beautifully presented, almost daring you to look away from the screen. There are no extraneous scenes in this film. Blink and you’ll miss a perfectly orchestrated swing of an ax or a furtive glance from a villain (or someone you suspect is a villain).
Along with the visual beauty of the film and the strong storyline there is a love story that is amusing in its simplicity and that doesn’t overpower the film. You know going in what the future holds when Lincoln meets Mary Todd but that doesn’t keep you from enjoying the chemistry of Benjamin Walker and Mary Elizabeth Winstead. The makeup on both that brings them from young lovers to older folks in the White House deserves an brief mention. Walker becomes the Lincoln we're all famiiar with without looking over-done or fake and the change from young man to bearded president doesn't pull you out of the film; the transition is natural as well as necessary.
Don’t think, as many do, that you’re too good for this film, you aren’t. This film is more than just fun; it’s well crafted and original. Things that are sorely missing from many current movies.