Though I never actually had the opportunity to read Seth Grahame-Smith’s original novel, director Timur Bekmambetov’s treatment of the revisionist novel is one of the more interesting horror movies I’ve ever seen. Not only does the film skirt the edges of camp, but it accomplishes the wonderful sense of surrealism and whimsy that Bekmambetov’s “Night Watch” films held so proudly. “Vampire Hunter” carries with it a lot of prospects for future installments, and it’s a very clever and often exciting bit of action horror that delivers on exactly what its title promises. There is Abraham Lincoln, and he does indeed stalk and hunt vampires for a great portion of the film.
The story borrows somewhat from “The Dark Knight” movie series portraying Lincoln as a young man whose mother was taken from him at a young age by a cruel aristocrat. Years later, Lincoln attempts to assassinate the man who murdered his mother only to find the man is anything but some wealthy stooge. Nearly killed by the man who reveals himself to be a vampire, Lincoln meets the enigmatic Henry Cooper who trains Lincoln in the art of battling vampires to help him achieve his vengeance. While the film itself begs for a campy self-aware genre twist, “Vampire Hunter” is played with a stern approach toward the genre hybrid. Abraham Lincoln’s journey is exciting and compelling from his journey in to hunting vampires, his inevitable meeting of his wife Mary Todd, and his crossing in to politics as an iconic president. Most of Seth Grahame-Smith’s story for Abraham Lincoln really cleverly and quite excellently twists the history and iconic moments in Lincoln’s life for the sake of the story. Everything in Lincoln’s legacy revolved around his battle with the undead in Seth Grahame-Smith’s screenplay.
And what’s interesting is the movie never quite downplays the historical significance of said events, so much as he adds an even cooler motive behind them. The underground railroad was really a means of transporting silver to fight vampires, Lincoln’s association with the axe was based around his ability to slay vampires like a boss, and Mary Todd looked an awful lot like gorgeous Mary Elizabeth Winstead. “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” manages to pair most of the history with the horror elements quite well, creating something of a unique hybrid for folks who appreciate some novelty with their vampire films. Dominic Cooper is fantastic, Rufus Sewell is memorable as head vampire Adam, Anthony Mackie gets his glory as Lincoln’s right hand man Will Johnson, and Benjamin Walker does a bang up job as the noble president whose entire goal for fighting vampires is based around preserving humanity, whether they’re light skinned or dark skinned. Director Timur Bekmambetov lends a flair to this horror fantasy twist, and delivers one hell of an entertaining and unique horror film. While I originally had my doubts, “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” succeeds in being an entertaining, exciting, and chilling genre hybrid with top notch performances, and a great cast.