Review: “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter”

And you thought freeing the slaves was a big deal.

With the success of a recent trend of faux historical novels, it was only a matter of time before one of them made it to the local theater. Beating “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” to production is the Civil War-era “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.”

The tale incorporates many actual events of the 16th president’s life while also pumping in a fictional vampire plotline. Many elements of vampire lore are adjusted to fit the story, such as an adaptation to sunlight. While vampire purists might be a little disappointed by that, many tales of the undead jumble around details to provide a fresh twist.

Given the title of the film, it wouldn’t be a big shock if it was played as over the top and campy; however, director Timur Bekmambetov (“Wanted”) tries to give the film a straight and honest path. He and writer Seth Grahame-Smith do well with this approach for the most part, but there are a handful of scenes where the fragile line between silliness and straight-laced is shattered.

Helping out with the film’s polished attempt are the strong performances (for this type of film) from the fairly unkown Benjamin Walker and his co-stars Rufus Sewell and Dominic Cooper. The only distracting thing about the film’s performances is the increasing amount of aging makeup used throught the film.

One of the film’s biggest negatives comes from the special effects department. In some scenes they work, but overall the effects look like they belong to a different film. More specifically, they look like they belong to the campy film this could have been. Of course, maybe there are only a few ways to skin a cat (or in this case, create special effects for a vampire movie).

Given the film’s premise, one should be expecting a good amount of action. Fortunately, the film delivers all the axe-slicing and head-rolling your heart desires. It may be absurd at times, but it’s always entertaining.

Though it isn’t the award winner Steven Spielberg’s “Lincoln” should be later this year, “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” is an enjoyable afternoon at the movie theater if you can handle a little absurdity.

Grade: B-

Happy viewing.

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