Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter DVD Review
Directed by Timur Bekmambetov
Written by Seth Graham-Smith
2012, Region 2 (PAL), 100 minutes, Rated 15 (UK)
DVD released on 22nd October 2012
Benjamin Walker as Abraham Lincoln
Dominic Cooper as Henry Sturges
Anthony Mackie as Will Johnson
Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Mary Todd Lincoln
Rufus Sewell as Adam
After seeing the kicking Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter got on its theatrical release, I had my expectations set pretty low for watching the home entertainment version. Maybe it’s because of the low bar I’d set, but honestly, it’s not that bad.
What a lot of people fail to realize about the film is that it’s 100% historically accurate. Abraham Lincoln’s mother was indeed killed by a vampire and he did embark on a life of vampire slaying, under the tutelage of Henry Sturges (Dominic Cooper), after a failed attempt to off the bloodsucker that bagged his Mum. You only have to read the internet for an unhealthy amount of time to see the number of conspiracy theories that expose detailed cover-ups. Abraham Lincoln’s past is just another in a long line of inconvenient truths the US is hiding.
OK, tin-foil hat off for the rest of the review.
Timur Bekmambetov, previously responsible for the stylish Russian fantasy horrors Night Watch and Day Watch and the bullet-bending Wanted, takes the director’s chair for this high-sugar eye-candy piece. It’s penned by Seth Graham-Smith, who also gave the world the historical mash-up Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (the jury’s still out on whether this is a work of fiction or not). The script neatly threads a battle against blood-sucking creeps through the timeline of Lincoln’s life, so the viewer actually ends up with a bit of a history lesson in with the bargain.
Benjamin Walker as Lincoln is reminiscent of a young Liam Neeson in scenes where he’s paying the younger man and his blossoming relationship with Mary Todd (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) is really rather sweet. When he’s not having picnics with Mary, Lincoln’s up against a 5000 year-old vampire named Adam (Rufus Sewell), playing it as the now clichéd “English gent” character. Come to think of it, Henry Sturges has a plummy English accent too, selling the idea that to be cultured and experience in the finer things in life you have to be from Blighty. I have no problem with that.
Action-wise it’s pretty much as you’d expect if you’ve seen any of Bekmambetov’s previous work; hugely stylized and CGI-heavy fight scenes that drop into slow motion every time someone’s about to be struck with Lincoln’s silver-bladed axe. On the CGI front, everything looks so incredibly perfect to the point you start examining everything and assuming it’s created by a CPU. And if you watch the extras you realize pretty much all of it is. The vampires are toothy buggers who scream a massive maw of sharp teeth at their enemies and I was surprised at the amount of blood spilled because I somehow had it in my head that it was rated PG-13 in the US (not so, rated R) and we’d translated it to the halfway-house 15 certificate in the UK.
So do what I did, watch this expecting little and you’ll be rewarded with a feeling of “Yeah, that was better than what the TV schedule offered this evening”. It’s not as truly awful as I’d expected, but it’s unlikely to get much in the way of a rewatch. Internet sources are telling me that more presidential secret life histories will be revealed soon. Expect Bill Clinton: Werewolf Slayer in the next few years. You heard it here first.
Video and Audio:
The picture is very clean and very digital looking. I suppose it has to be to suit Bekmambetov’s style, he really wants you to see what’s going on. Audio is 5.1 and pretty damn decent with the rear speakers being put to good use in many of the vampire fights and Civil War scenes.
The Making of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is very general 15-minute featurette and focuses mainly on the transition of Seth Graham-Smith’s novel to the screen. There’s also an audio commentary with Graham-Smith if that takes your fancy.