Vampires have had a bit of a rough ride when it comes to big-screen outings recently.

Whether it be the teenage noodlings of Twilight, or the box-office misfire that was last year’s Fright Night, the fanged fiends have dropped off my radar a bit in terms of favourite cinematic villains.

Which is probably why my expectations were pretty mixed coming into this – I liked the trailer, love the director and was intrigued by the concept, but all the while had this nagging feeling that it was going to be a big let-down.

But boy was I wrong, as Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter turns out to be one hell of a wild ride, and I may even stick my neck out (see what I did there) and pin this up as one of my highlights of the year so far.

I am pretty sure many will disagree with me and talk of a silly plot, over-the-top action sequences and the like, but I am sticking to my guns.

As the title suggests, Timur Bekmambetov’s movie throws us headlong into the life and times of Lincoln.

Starting off during his childhood, the president-to-be sees his mother offed by a vampire and grows into adulthood with a thirst for revenge.

Turns out he doesn’t really have the skills though, until in steps Henry Sturgess (Dominic Cooper), a Mr Miyagi-type figure who educates Lincoln in the art of dispatching vampires, as well as spouting lines such as ‘Great power comes not from hate, but the truth’.

Soon Lincoln is up and about, decapitating the fiends at the behest of Sturgess, all the while eager to get his mitts on those who slayed his mother.

Things take a major turn though when Lincoln decides he wants to dabble in politics, and we also learn that the South (the US is on the verge of a civil war) is in part run by a string of plantation owners who turn out to be vampires, led by Adam (Rufus Sewell).

Decades of American history is then covered as we see Abe’s rise to power, as well as the war between the North and the vampire South, all the while with a few head choppings here and there to keep things ticking over.

It all builds to a pretty spectacular climax on a burning railroad as Lincoln faces up to his nemeses for the final time.

As Lincoln, the relatively unknown Benjamin Walker turns in a fine performance, a journey that starts with him as a vulnerable, shy loner and ends up with his tub-thumping speeches.

He is also a pretty mean hand with an axe, which helps tremendously in the copious action scenes.

Cooper lends solid support, Sewell makes a interesting villain and genre favourite Mary Elizabeth Winstead is on hand as the love interest.

But this really is Bekmambetov’s baby, the director showing he has lost none of the visual flair that marked out his earlier movies Night Watch, Day Watch and Wanted.

Full of atmospheric scenes, some quality slow-motion and inspired action sequences, such as a chase and fight amid a pack of charging horses, this is a virtual Presidential banquet for the eyes.

There is also some neat 3D, with a real desire to expand the movie into this format.

It is also quite a feat to produce a film that not only features an array of vampire deaths, as well as working in musings on the abolition of slavery and the Gettysburg address.

There are faults – some of Seth Grahame-Smith’s screenplay (adapted from his novel) has the distinct whiff of cheese, and there are some clunking gear changes in tone which really jar, but these can easily be forgiven.

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter will not be to everyone’s taste, but I absolutely loved it.

About The Author

Simon Fitzjohn

Simon is a journalism tutor in London, who also just happens to be a movie fanatic, with a craving for the darker side of cinema. He has written two books, one on the horror films of director Bob Clark (2014) and the other on the history of the character Norman Bates (2015). His third book, on the work of British exploitation director Pete Walker, is due in 2017.

  • Jean Claude

    Thank you for your review, glad to see you weren’t disappointed. Just thought I’d recommend to you Giorgio Moroder’s limited edition of Metropolis, that will be out on DVD in the UK soon. It will also be available online at YEKRA.com starting July 23rd. You can see the trailer here Metropolismovie.co.uk