Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is a much better book than movie
First off, let me say that I enjoyed Seth Graham-Smith’s Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. That is to say, I enjoyed the book. It was clever, well-researched, and didn’t take itself too seriously. The conceit that the Confederacy was a vampire-backed plot is obviously a little tough to swallow without one’s tongue firmly planted in cheek. The book toed that line perfectly. And then the movie jumped right over it. On horseback.
It reminded me of watching those spoof comedies (the Scary Movie franchise comes to mind) which do everything they’re supposed to do, and yet ring hollow. The ridiculousness is so over the top, its not even internally consistent. How can a mortal man chop a mature tree down with one stroke? Or chase a vampire on horsebacks (not horseback, they are running–the vampire and the man–on the backs of horses, like rocks across a stream)? The filmmakers never bother to tell us.
It is visually stylistic, but is too in love with the Matrix-style combat scenes and video techniques. We get it. That shot was cool ten years ago or so. Used sparingly, it can still be effective, but director Timur Bekmambetov uses it too much for my taste. And the climactic showdown between Lincoln and the head vampire (an unnecessary character who is nevertheless well-played by Rufus Sewell) feels committeed into the film by studio executives clamoring for more action! more action! There was plenty in Grahame-Smith’s novel. The rest is shoehorned in.
Benjamin Walker delivers a solid performance as Abraham Lincoln (the makeup is also convincing, which is saying a lot considering how iconic Lincoln’s actual face has become), but it winds up coming off as an unfunny spoof of itself. There are also glaring historical inaccuracies not present in the book, and significant additional departures from the original novel by Seth Grahame-Smith (who also co-wrote the screenplay, which makes it that much more of a head scratcher).
I have heard the laughable complaint that this movie will create a generation of Americans who believe that Lincoln was an actual vampire hunter. Nonsense. My six-year-old knows that vampires are merely pretend. This movie won’t change anyone’s mind of that, no matter how ignorant they are. Unfortunately, it will likely create a generation of Americans (and others) who believe that Seth Grahame-Smith’s book is a cartoonish exercise in over-the-top buffoonery. And that is a real shame. Do yourself a favor. Don’t judge the book by the movie.