Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter or There Will Be Blood

Ash Isaac

Vampires. Sexier than zombies, less hirsute than werewolves, cooler than ghosts and more bankable than all of them combined. Who doesn’t like vampires? Even vampire hunters like vampires because without them they would have to get a regular, soul-sapping, spirit-crushing, brain-melting job like the rest of us. But enough about working at Vada.

Abraham Lincoln. Great Emancipator. Beard aficionado. Hat-wearer. Who doesn’t like Abraham Lincoln? Surely a film combining these two disparate elements would be a sure-fire blood-soaked beardy winner? If only Hollywood worked that way.

Literary mash-ups have been all the rage in recent years, if it’s not Lizzie Bennett juggling her romance with Darcy with her zombie-killing duties, then it’s Heathcliff turning into a werewolf and terrorising the Yorkshire moors. It was only a matter of time before some bright spark producer decided to bring the literary mash up to celluloid life. So we’re treated to the tragic origin story of Lincoln, (Benjamin Walker) who sees his mother murdered by a vampire at an early age and his father pass soon afterwards from grief. What more Batman-style motivation would any young child need to avenge his parents? Abe is sought out by Henry (Dominic Cooper), a mysterious bohemian who instructs him in the ancient art of hunting and killing vampires through the glorious cinematic medium of montage and in the space of a few minutes, Abe is a bonafide hunter extraordinaire.

The vampires in this particular universe possess all the strengths of the common or garden variety and few of the weaknesses. They’re unaffected by sunlight and crosses and don’t even think about garlic. Oh, they can also turn invisible and have superhuman strength. They only thing they can’t seem to deal with is a well-placed silver infused axe blow delivered by a human with none of the aforementioned powers. We see Abe commence his hunting career whilst courting the comely Mary Todd (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and finding the time to nurture his burgeoning political career, and evidently sleep only four hours a night a la Maggie Thatcher. Draw your own conclusions.

Fast forward several years and Abe is now in the White House overseeing the Civil War and trying to defeat the secessionists who are being aided by evil vampire overlord Adam, (Rufus Sewell). Vampire Confederate soldiers are overrunning the Union army and things are looking increasingly bleak for Abe. After months of heavy losses, Abe finally comes up with the genius solution to try and combat the vampire hordes. Silver! Nice thinking, Abe. I mean, you’ve only been using it to kill vampires your whole adult life, so it’s understandable why it took the loss of thousands of your men to summon up that crucial nugget of information.

It’s time to dust off the vampire-slaying axe and take care of unfinished business. In the film’s finale, Abe is escorting a trainload of silver to Union lines in the hopes of winning the war. The train is assaulted en route by Adam and his henchmen, but Honest Abe is able to vanquish them and press on with winning a war and healing a nation. By this stage, you’re bored to the point of starting to root for the evil bloodsucking parasites who are in turn supporting the evil slavery-loving seditionists.

If it all sounds a little ludicrous it’s because it is incredibly ludicrous and not even in a tongue-in-cheek, irreverent way. In fact, the film is so po-faced, you almost wonder if the writer and director intended for this to be a serious biopic in the vein of Spielberg’s more recent and Oscar-laden Lincoln film. There is a total lack of levity or anything approaching parody, which is odd considering the source material is by definition a parody. There’s plenty of style and visual panache, but who would have thought a film about bloodletting would be so anaemic?

The search goes on for the first great mash up film. Me? I’m waiting for Godzilla taking on Becky Sharp from Vanity Fair. It’s a comedy of manners about a social climbing conwoman who falls in love with a wealthy upper class landowner who just so happens to be a 300 foot mutated lizard. Yes…love is strange..

About Ash Isaac

I am a contributor of questionable taste, origin and talent. My one claim to fame is that I was born in the same hospital as Cliff Richard. I am still in possession of my soul unlike Sir Cliff who sold his to Samael the Desolate in return for eternal youth and the friendship of Sue Barker.