Essentially, there are two types of moviegoers in this world: people looking to escape the real world for two hours of their life, and mirthless, pain in the ass pedants, who notice and dissect every nitpicky little plot hole, and who fundamentally don’t like the experience at all… like me. Why then, did I relish every moment of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, when so many others have already panned it?
Yes, the film is uneven at times, and some characterization feels unfinished, as if important parts of the film have been left on the cutting room floor, but I just shook it off, and moved on. Why for this film, and so few others? Because the film is called Abraham. Lincoln. Vampire. Hunter. “Suspension of disbelief” (something I’m not good at, and will reject totally for films that pretend at realism) doesn’t begin to cover what one is required to accept in this film. Beyond the premise alone, the film veers sharply for the absurd early on, and then proceeds to one-up both its plot and visual effects for its remaining time. In short, you cannot take it seriously at all, but that’s not a bad thing.
While the two main “boss battles” are so unbelievably over the top that I was crying with laughter by the end of each, I was still, without question, thrilled. In fact, all the fight sequences are slick and sharply choreographed, with plenty of jump scares and other visual trickery throughout. After all, it’s in the visual department that the film shines. While the CGI is taken to extremes, overall the film is visually arresting, with some scenes, especially the sweeping shots of battlefields, seemingly ripped from Civil War era lithographs. The vampires alternate between genteel human forms (with or without pronounced veins and gleaming eyes) and fearsome distant cousins of Mortal Kombat’s Baraka, and Honest Abe himself becomes only more convincing as he ages through the film.
Ultimately, what holds this all together is the smartly woven alternate history, which, while imperfect, is full of clever twists that give life to what could otherwise be a very straightforward collection of decapitations. What makes the film work, beyond the slick visuals and clever plot, is its lightheartedness. This is intended to be a thrillride, and as such, it doesn’t take itself seriously, which is why I found it easy to let go and jump on for the ride. Also, as I mentioned previously, you should spend the extra coin to see this in 3D, which, while faked (the film was not shot in 3D), adds an extra loop to this rollercoaster. Trust me, you’ll get that money back during the horse chase scene alone…