Anyone who knows me knows that I love Lincoln. I know, I know, who doesn’t, right? But I’m talking posters on my wall, historical books on my bed-stand kind of obsession.
To state the obvious, Lincoln’s attempt to heal America and eradicate slavery altogether bordered on mystical in magnitude. The man always possessed a certain paranormal (or at the very least, abnormal) quality, growing up with nothing and famously walking six miles to borrow a book whenever he got the thirst for knowledge.
Yet, even I was shocked by the folklore surrounding, you guessed it, Lincoln’s vampire slaying – there is actually a book on it, which is totally worth checking out, if you haven’t already. Apparently, vampires are to blame for the mass murder of individuals and even indigenous tribes. They played a huge role in the Civil War, too; just watch Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter to find out. Tim Burton produced the film, and although it does not exemplify his signature quirky darkness and off-beat humor, the quality of the film certainly reflects careful oversight.
“I Shall Always Think Of Myself as A Man Who Struggled Against Darkness.”
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter opens with Abe as a young boy, as he watches his mother being attacked by a vampire. Of course, it is true that Lincoln lost his mother at an early age and bore witness to many more deaths after that point, including the death of his father and two of his own sons, William and Edward.
His mother’s violent death leaves Lincoln blood thirsty (no pun intended) and desperate for answers. He partners up with a man named Henry, who sends him kill missions, promising to disclose the name of Lincoln’s mother’s murderer. Lincoln is anxious to confront his mother’s killer, who happens to be a vicious vampire. But before he is able to fight, he must train.
The film’s version of Lincoln (Benjamin Walker) may not have had much luck with a gun, but when it came to the axe, the man was an expert. Swung over his shoulder with confidence, Abe carries around his weapon like a third arm. When Lincoln swings his axe and knocks down a tree in one fell swoop, the entire forest shakes and we see the swing in an epic, slow motion performance. There are also excellent shots where Lincoln is twirling his axe like a baton.
I liked the homage to Lincoln’s early life here. We all know the story about Honest Abe and his handy axe, growing up in a log cabin in Indiana (and later, Illinois). He was a bonafide homesteader who propelled himself forward by teaching himself grammar and, eventually, law. But the most interesting part of history is the untold story. Enter Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.
The Characters, The War
It wouldn’t be a Lincoln film without Marry Todd (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and Joshua Speed (Jimmi Simpson). Luckily, we meet both within a span of two minutes. And then there is Stephen Douglas, of course. But the film does not delve too far into their relationships, keeping the history books on the shelf for the most part. While I understand that the film’s focus is on the supernatural, and not on Lincoln’s relationships, I was a little disappointed by the lack of character development. What about Joshua Speed? He and Lincoln shared a bed, for goodness sakes! I wish the script went a little more into detail on their kindhearted friendship.
Later on in the film, there are several Civil War re-enactment scenes, which are both ambitious and grand in scale. I especially liked these epic battles, and was impressed by the director’s ability to recreate history. There were only one or two points throughout the film where I had to look away, as the scenes became to gruesome.
The film plays out like a video game, with wild fighting sequences and swift camerawork. We begin to feel like an actual player in the game, instead of a mere observer. While Abe fights against the vampires, we fight alongside him. The mood of the film is dark and foreboding, with a color palette to match. I mentioned before that the film feels like a video game, but this extends past the fighting scenes. There is something about the dim lighting and steel blue color tones that feels reminiscent of something intense, grand, and more game-like.
The camera moves in sweeping motions, allowing little time for our eyes to adjust, the film’s cinematography closely reflecting its heightened action. Whether the camera’s eye is focused on Lincoln swinging his axe or giving a speech, the director of photography was sure to keep the subject monumental in scope. Several extreme wide shots nicely compliment the film’s epic stature as well.
I was a little bit confused about the film’s connection between vampires and slavery. What I’ve gathered is that the Confederate army teamed up with vampires to destroy the North – which, of course, failed. Some of the details are fuzzy in this film, but I loved how Death By Vampires explains all of the loss that Lincoln encountered in his life, including the death of his young son.
Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter definitely makes you think twice about Lincoln’s true identity, but most of all, it shocks and surprises as the film unfolds. I was not expecting to like this movie, but I wound up feeling quite satisfied. And I don’t think that has too much to do with my Lincoln obsession.
Are you a Lincoln fan? What did you think of Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter? Tell us what you thought in the comments below!