Let’s face it, history sucks.
A whole bunch of facts and figures, dates and places, all of which are meaningless and pointless because everyone involved died ages ago. Luckily Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is here to change all that. Taking out all of the boring bits and replacing them with bats and blood and delivering action packed horror on an epic scale.
Taken from the novel of the same name, penned by Seth Grahame-Smith – the man who gave the world Pride and Prejudice and Zombies – the film is a biographical horror that takes bloody and brilliant liberties with fact to create a much more exciting and horror filled fiction out of Lincoln’s life.
Opening in 1865 we find a young Abraham Lincoln already fighting for the rights of black slaves and being beaten by evil slave owners for doing so. It transpires that this slave owner is no ordinary man but is in fact a vampire who breaks into Lincoln’s house late at night and kills his mother.
Nine years later, consumed by revenge, Lincoln (played brilliantly by Benjamin Walker) attempts to kill the blood sucker responsible for his loss, only to be defeated and nearly die at his hands. Thankfully he’s saved by the mysterious Henry Sturgess (Dominic Cooper).
Sturgess it seems knows much about the vampire community and their domination of the Southern states. He takes Lincoln under his wing, training him as a vampire hunter with the hopes that he will help him take down the insidious monsters who plan on taking over America.
However, vengeance is all Lincoln cares about and as he starts his quest destroying the undead in the service of Sturgess, he is compelled only by his desire to see those that murdered his mother put back in the ground where they belong.
Grahame-Smith, who also wrote the script, does a fine job keeping up the pace of the film while playing a clever balancing trick, weaving Lincoln’s real life and achievements into the horror fantasy. The film even takes us to his latter position as President of the United States of America, fighting the American civil war except this time its against hordes of vampires.
It is in these later stages that you realise that there is in fact a serious side to Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. With the plight of the black slaves, who are captured and bred to feed the evil blood suckers, taking the human rights crusade Lincoln fought for to a whole new level. Ultimately it is a tale about man versus monster in a war for the survival of the human race, what ever colour, creed or religion they are.
The flip side of the films seriousness is the amazing fight scenes and excellent special effects, all directed with style and panache by Timur Bekmambetov. He’s a man who adapted the comic Wanted to the screen and also has a passion for horror, making his own awesomely epic Night Watch and Day Watch movies.
Packed with slo-mo, axe chopping, stampede chase scenes and all out battlefield warfare, the film (which was in 3D at the cinema) looks great on Blu-Ray and the violence and fight scenes keep you from you ever getting bored.
The cast are all excellent, especially Walker who adds a gravitas and seriousness to the role that it needs, which may not have worked so effectively with another actor. Dominic Cooper is also superb as is Rufus Sewell as Adam, the first vampire and the big baddie behind the whole evil empire.
With Hollywood constantly rewriting British history in their favour, my dream would be that Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter became an approved text for any kids studying American History in school. It’s a hell of a lot more fun than any text book and who knows, they might even learn something along the way.
Read our Interview with Dominic Cooper & Rufus Sewell right here