Austin Connection Movie Review – Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter


Movie review by: Jose Gonzalez

Opening this weekend is director Timur Bekmambetov’s Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. The film is based on the book of the same name from Pride and Prejudice and Zombies author Seth Grahame-Smith and produced by Tim Burton.

I do not like Timur Bekmambetov’s film, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. I do not like sitting down to see a movie and leaving the theater afterwards scratching my head wondering, “What did I just see?” I left this movie with more questions than I should have. I left this movie uninspired to make new art, seek other similar movies or even just have that smile on my face when I’ve really just enjoyed myself and want to praise the artist.

I had one main question running through my head as I watched the film, “Who is the audience for this movie?” Art is meant to be consumed in a medium. Art is a honed skill, insight and creativity from a person’s point of view to the world. Films are made for the purpose of telling a story, making us care about the main character, understanding a struggle and seeing how the main character deals with adversity to accomplishing their goal. Is there a reason to make a movie about Abraham Lincoln battling vampires? Why this American President instead of the others? What makes me want to sit down and watch this person fight the undead? Did the filmmaker make me want to care about Lincoln? Sadly, I can answer none of that.

The movie starts off in a hurried scene with a young Abraham Lincoln standing up for a slave about to be whipped by his master. His father pleads no, tells him to “look away.” This is a presumptuous start to a movie. Before the background is established, before we know who and what Abraham Lincoln is, we only know he doesn’t like slaves getting whipped. This characteristic could and should apply to every human on the planet. Where is the backstory to tell us more about this unique individual? Why is there a rush to get this movie going? The answer as I found was simple, we need more time for the special effects.

As of late, it’s popular to slow down a special effect in a movie. Exaggerate the point of how close a bullet or knife really is to hurting someone. I have seen this example excessively. It’s tired. It’s played out. It’s overdone. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter not only uses this style of computer animation, but it uses it over and over. It fills up the time needed for content, conflict, and interest to have repeated battles done the same way. And why would they do this? If you’re making a movie, the central focus should be the story. It should be me, the audience, caring why or why not the main character ever achieves their goal through hardship. Because more effort was given to drawn-out battles that really don’t move the story along, I start to not care about Lincoln. I don’t know what his motives are and I don’t care what he hopes to achieve.

This isn’t Timur’s first film, nor the first film he has directed central to vampires, so there are expectations with his past success and unique material. This isn’t Francis Ford Coppola struggling with trying to tell Bram Stoker’s Dracula, but rather closer to Ang Lee getting lost in the special effects of The Hulk. I feel there wasn’t restraint when it came to keeping the audience interested in the story, rather he went for some cheap and quick sequences that would make a teenage boy exclaim, “Cool!”

When I left my seat, I ran through numerous examples where I felt there was more fat than gristle. I wanted to get some of the charisma of Lincoln, who was a known orator, well-spoken and engaging. I really wanted to feel the weight of the Civil War on the man’s shoulders, to see the pain in his eyes, especially when the battles are more than just the backdrop to Lincoln as a vampire hunter. They reflect the attitude of the people he leads. This movie should have been epic.

It’s not a movie that tried and failed, but one that I feel started awkwardly, confusedly, and never found its footing. Why base a movie upon this President and the Civil War when the only real historical references are limited to a photograph, a few moments of a battle and headlines?

When the lights finally came on, I sat in my seat and stared at the credits, wondering who would want to watch this movie, and why? The simple answer, not me.

I give this movie 1 out of 5 Nerdskulls.

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I grew up on Kung Fu theater movie weekends, a lot of Top Ramen Noodles, G.I. Joe's, Evil Knivels Stunt Cycle and Stretch Armstrong. My Movie reviews and Artist Interviews have been a regular around Follow me on Twitter @arainbolt. or email me