An action horror flick that is nothing more than simple good fun...
Revisionist stories that reimagine actual events and people in unusual ways can be interesting for one reason. They stretch the boundaries of the imagination, giving us new stories that are far from the ordinary. Nobody wants to stick with the same old stories over and over again, especially when they pertain to historical figures and, even as fiction, insist on maintaining historical accuracy. Of course, revisionist stories have to be done right. They should explore new ideas or take on old ideas in new ways, without being too weird even for the most open-minded movie watcher.
However, this is just one purpose of revisionist stories. Another is simply to provide mindless entertainment. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, a movie that merges American history with horror, is one such example. The idea of the 16th U.S. President battling blood-sucking creatures of the night is an intriguing one, whether or not there was any actual legend of Lincoln being a superstitious man. Who cares if it doesn't put Lincoln in a new historical light? The only purpose of this movie is to have fun with the concept.
The film's plot begins with the young Abe Lincoln as a child who, one night, witnesses a strange man sneaking up to his mother's bed while she is sleeping. A short time after this incident, she dies of mysterious causes. As Abe grows up into a young man, he vows to get revenge. He soon learns from a man named Henry Sturgess that there are vampires hiding out in America, including the man who killed Abe's mother. Abe then learns the art of fighting vampires, training himself with his weapon of choice: an axe.
For a while, the movie alternates between an average historical drama, where Abe makes a living as a shopkeeper's assistant, and an action horror, where Abe kills vampires at night with the help of notes from Henry that indicate which people in town are undead. Abe also meets a lovely young woman named Mary Todd, who would later become his wife, and reunites with Will Johnson, a black slave who was also Abe's childhood friend. It's rather challenging for a character to go back and forth between a peaceful life and a violent undertaking. It's the kind of thing we see in many superhero stories.
The second half of the movie takes place during Abe's presidency. Just like in real life, the American Civil War breaks out in response to a call to end slavery for good. Northern states in the Union embrace the idea, but Southern states hate it and vow to form their own nation, a Confederacy. The twist in this movie, interestingly enough, is one that can be seen as politically incorrect to the most sensitive historian: the Confederate soldiers fighting Union forces are mostly vampires. Lincoln now has to be both president and vampire hunter in order to lead the Union to victory.
The action in Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is stylistic, using slow motion, close-ups, and plenty of blood and gore to keep us riveted. I found myself forgetting that I was watching an American president killing vampires with an axe. Not that I forgot who the character was. I simply suspended all disbelief and enjoyed the eye candy, especially during the climax taking place on a fast-moving train. It's a sequence that surely does not disappoint. All in all, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is a fun cinematic ride, one that requires no intellectual thought and pretty much throws historical accuracy out the window.
For more information about Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, visit the Internet Movie Database.