Now Playing: This ‘Abraham Lincoln’ Flunks History

I’m all for the re-imagining of historical events with a genre twist. ‘X-Men: First Class’ did that very well; it was fun and playful. However, ‘Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter’ isn’t. Constantly changing tones between comically tongue-in-cheek and deadpan serious, the film lies within that category of Movies That Don’t Know What They’re Trying To Be. The only certainty is that it’s a movie I won’t willfully watch again.

There’s nothing more depressing than looking forward to a movie, only to have it utterly fail. ‘Abraham Lincoln’ doesn’t start off too badly, but it certainly doesn’t stay where it starts. What begins as fun ends in the ranks of ‘Jonah Hex’. No, ‘Lincoln’ isn’t that bad, but it gets that bad.

First off, Timur Bekmambetov, I’ve enjoyed your movies up to this point, but please pick a single tone for this one. It’s serious. It’s silly. It’s dramatic. It’s quirky. It’s emotional. Remix the order of emotions and repeat. And repeat. And repeat.

Visually, ‘Abraham Lincoln’ resembles a Syfy channel original film. Without over-exaggerating, literally every single frame of the film carries a smoky/foggy effect. Although it’s probably there to hide the lacking CG effects, it’s a terrible distraction. This effect also causes the 3D presentation to feel like a pop-up book, barely one hair above that of ‘Clash of the Titans‘.

As much as I wanted to love the movie, I hated it. I saw what Bekmambetov and (producer) Tim Burton were trying to do, but they failed horribly at getting it right. Instead of filling the flick with vampire violence, it’s chock full of history lessons that we all learned (assuming you’re American) at the age of eight. Speaking of the story, if you read between the lines, the Civil War as depicted in the film has nothing to do with slavery, but keeping the vampires from moving north. Give me a break.

‘Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter’ is joke – a joke not worth laughing at.

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆


  1. We’re definitely going to have a Critical Mass post about this movie. I have no idea how you hated this as much as you did.

    I had a lot of fun with this movie. One of the few movies that would be just as fun watching with a RiffTrax as without one.

  2. Shannon Nutt

    Luke, you obviously didn’t read the book…when you say the movie is chock full of history lessons, that’s exactly what the book is…thanks for your review – although you didn’t like the film, I think I will!

    • Luke Hickman

      I didn’t read the book, but I’m curious to know how it stacks up to the movie.

      This is one title that I don’t think many will see, but those who do will either giggle their way through it or roll their eyes at it. Aaron falls into the first category, I (obviously) fall into the latter.

      Please let me know how it compares to the book after you see it. I have a buddy who loves the book, so I’ve been tempted to read it for a while. But if it’s like the movie, I’m out.

      • Shannon Nutt

        The book is essentially an accurate history of Lincoln, with the reasons BEHIND what happened attributed to vampires and vampire activity.

        • JM

          People who love the book seem to be hating this movie extra fierce.

          How can Seth Grahame-Smith write such great novels, yet awful scripts?

      • The book begins and ends with some very hipster elements that did not help. Almost all of the characters outside of Abraham Lincoln are weakly characterized and can come off as just the author speaking bits of dialogue.
        The middle of the book, though, which roughly details episodes in Lincoln’s life from age 9 to 32, is enjoyable for a variety of reasons. Seeing Abe poor and growing to hate his father, hunting vampires, and trying to escape debt while the reader gets to guess at which quotes and stories are fictional or historical is the meat of the book. And caring about Abe made his encounters with vampires somewhat suspenseful.

        The Abe Lincoln in the movie was pretty unremarkable. His idiotic attempts to avenge his parents lacked gravity, but at the same time, the movie continued to present clunky scenes instead of fully going for vampire hunting action. For example, the scene where we see Henry become a vampire. It was neither fun, nor serious, nor compelling.

        I basically agree with Luke. The movie could have been more serious, or it could have dropped even more of the Lincoln pretense and been more fun either through humor or action.

  3. Shayne Blakeley

    Saw a screening of this the other night. I thought it was pretty fun, downright stupid as shit, but fun nonetheless. It’s basically a straight to dvd cheesefest that somehow managed to get big names and money attached to it, for better or worse.

  4. Shayne Blakeley

    Also after the screening I heard an awful lot of people scoffing and grumbling about it (at least one other person also compared it to Jonah Hex) and I found that kind of perplexing. Not because the movie was so good, but because, I’ll be damned if that wasn’t the exact thing I expected to see. From the trailer, from the title alone. Why would you even go to see a movie called Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter if you think that Lincoln as a vampire hunter is stupid. I’m not accusing you of this Luke, but that seemed to be the vibe coming out of the theater. And to be clear, I heard no mention of bad cgi or poor execution or pacing issues, it was merely “what a dumb movie.” Well no shit? Did literally anything give you reason to think otherwise? Maybe the book is a masterful piece of literature and these people somehow avoided every bit of promotion for the movie, but I doubt these people would have picked up a book called Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter either. And I’m not trying to stir up the “you can’t criticize a popcorn movie” debate either, critically this movie is going to bomb, and it should. Honestly, it won’t even qualify as a cult classic. All I can figure is that since the passes were free, first come first serve, maybe these folks just couldn’t pass up a free movie ticket no matter what it was.

    • The problem with ‘Jonah Hex’ is the same problem that ‘Transformers’ or ‘Battleship’ has. They are FAR too serious for their own good. Deep down those movies think they’re good when they’re not. The difference here is that ‘AL:VH’ embraces every bit of its badness and plays with it until the end.

      • Luke Hickman

        It’s funny because I found it to be the exact opposite. I thought it was WAY too serious. It would be intentionally hammy at times, but – to me – seemed overly serious.

          • Shayne Blakeley

            I’m with Aaron in regards to that. Sure there were some more serious moments, mostly involving actual events in his life, but on the whole it was completely aware it was an exploitation film.

          • I would argue that it’s even aware in the “serious” moments, that it’s a ridiculous premise. The movie goes for broke no matter how crazy it seems. I love it for that.

  5. Dan P.

    That’s disappionting to hear. The trailer looked great. I’m reading the book right now (about a quarter way through) and I like it. The book seems like serious business. Maybe Tim Burton just didn’t get it right.

  6. The previews alone showed me what this movie aimed to be, cheese. watching him swing his axe with ridiculous over the top scenes of Lincoln flying around, leaping in the air and all that kind of goodness, I knew right away what kind of movie it aimed to be, sure the “serious” stuff about his real life, the address and all of that that is history, should be serious but the rest is already absurd just hearing the title of the movie 🙂 I look forward to enjoying this one as I know I will

  7. JM

    How does Abraham “Cut Man” Lincoln compare to ‘Van Helsing’?

    Or ‘Underworld: Awakening’? Which I watched last night because I was told it felt like a romance novel, except they forgot all the good stuff.

    Does ‘Abraham Lincoln’ have lots of cleavage, sex, and kissin’?

    Does the actress you interviewed get naked in a pleasing fashion?

    • There are only a couple of boobies which are attached to a dead girl drained of blood.

      ‘Lincoln’ is so much more enjoyable than ‘Van Helsing’. MUCH!

      • JM

        I’m fine with blood-splattered tits, if the movie is anchored with a love subplot.

        Is the wooing of Mary Todd amongst the sexy elements?

  8. EM

    I think the real question is, How does this film stack up against the classic Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter?

    • JM

      ‘Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter’ was a kung-fu musical, so it could be close.

      But I think Paul Verhoeven’s ‘Jesus of Nazareth’ as scripted by Roger Avary will be the ultimate killing machine.

  9. JM

    I’m not looking for log cabin republican porn, just a little courtship.

    A little ‘Winslow Boy’-esque romance, buried in the pulp.

    If it’s 100% flirtation free, I’ll wait for ‘Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.’

    How does it compare to Chan-wook Park’s ‘Thirst’?

      • Yeah. I agree. I actually thought the Todd/Lincoln courtship was fun and effective. Probably the only part of the movie that seemed really genuine.