31 Days of Hallowe’en, Day 6: Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (2012)

source: originofcool.com

Today I was supposed to watch another movie, but I accidentally, er, procured it in a Spanish dub, and, what with it not being one of the eight or so languages I sort of know, had to ditch it and watch something I’d been saving on the DVR for another week. So I was already annoyed, and this stupid, crappy movie was so bad that I don’t even care about writing a witty review, so I’m just going to litter it with extremely obvious observations and a litany of curse words.  So here it is: Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.

I don’t even care about spoiling it for you, because you’re not going to watch a movie like this for dramatic suspenseful storytelling or for any cinematic merit. It’s a terrible film. Bad, rubbish shit.

So where do I start with how bad it is? How about the hokey opening narration at the beginning of the movie? Some faux-leathery-mouthed, pretentious twat waffling on about something blah blah blah, which then cuts to a scene of Abe writing out sort of verbatim versions of what he’s saying, which then cuts to a flashback scene that’s so grainy and sepia-ed it looks like Dr. Katz fucking Instagrammed himself. Then we get mega close-ups of young Abe and the African-American boy he tried to save get a lashing (seriously, pointlessly extreme close-ups of the end of the whip lashing against a small child’s face), before Abe’s dad steps up to the guy doing said lashing. Only, it happens to be Abe’s dad’s boss, who promptly fires him, and demands immediate payment of a debt. Since poor Abe’s family can’t play, the boss decides to suck Abe’s mother’s blood – because he is a vampire! Young Abe has seen this from the rafters, and vows to avenge his mother’s death by slaughtering as many of the bloodsuckers as possible.

He then grows up (played by Benjamin Walker, who is genuinely trying to do his best), gets super-drunk and, after bar patron Henry Sturges (Dominic Cooper; the best thing about this movie) picks up on his “you probably want to kill someone” drinking vibe, takes him under his wing and shows him how to fight and soup up his iconic axe. In a spectacularly inane (is that an oxymoron?) example of dramatic irony, it takes Abe at least a third of the entire film to realize that his Master/Trainer is also a vampire, despite never really aging and using tons of sunblock, constantly wearing stupid purple anachronistic sunglasses and even outright telling him that vampires can adapt to sunlight.

The entire story is slotted in alongside actual biographical events, such as meeting and marrying his wife, studying to become a lawyer, and eventually becoming president. Unfortunately, most of the film’s historical references were initially lost on me, but most of the characters and settings were from Lincoln’s real-life timeline. So maybe that’s why the film–makers decided to take the premise so unflinchingly seriously, like Titanic did with the Titanic or how Pearl Harbor did with, er, Pearl Harbor. Although, the reasons those movies worked (if you like that sort of thing) was because while the movie’s events revolve around real-life historical events, the “fiction” is a simple, plausible love story around characters who might have existed. This is already such a ridiculous premise that sapping any threat of humour from it does the movie a grave disservice, and practically forces you to focus your attention on the now-wooden dialogue and the strained acting (even from the usually great Rufus Sewell).

Even worse is when the movie tries to be cool. Every five fucking seconds there’s a bloody shaky-cam slow-motion-then-speed-it-up-again-type thing, as if Guy Ritchie tried to sepia-punch his way through The Matrix while forgetting how to make a movie. It happens SO FUCKING MUCH and it’s by far the most irritating, pointless, most distracting part of the movie. Meanwhile, I don’t give a shit about any of these characters so I don’t care that they’re RUNNING ACROSS A BADLY-RENDERED STAMPEDE OF CGI HORSES as if they’re running along cars (like..in The Matrix?), or when a train catches so fireingly on fire that the firey fire fires up the entire screen, apparently, so that it becomes Hell, which is not too far off from where watching this movie makes you feel like you are. It’s so pervasive and relentlessly in-your-face every five seconds that I wondered if they ran out of money halfway through filming and used the fucking slow-mo as some edgy, fart-arsed film-school-student way of doubling the length of the footage they had. But then I saw that it cost $69 million to make. Really? $69 million and this is what they produced? What did they spend the money on? Fucking stovepipe hats??

There are also bizarre technical choices that make no sense – during a ballroom scene, the lighting is blue; but when the vampirey murdering/vampirey-fighting starts, the lighting switches to red/orange/bright, but then BACK TO BLUE AGAIN once the fighting’s over! How?! This makes no sense! This is not a music video! Did he want to make a music video? Also, when someone shoves something into a shotgun, it’s magically propelled at the target when the gun is fired, rather than backing it up and killing the shooter. I’ve only shot a shotgun once, and even I know that!

Having not read the book, I cheated and Wikipedia’d the book’s plot; it is NOTHING like the movie. Major events have been changed (including the ending!), and the movie stripped the story of any humour whatsoever, despite the novelist actually having written the screenplay. I’ve been told that World War Z did exactly the same. I feel bad for any of the book’s fans; they’ve been cheated out of what could have been a really great movie.

Watch it drunk. In fact, here’s a drinking game: every time the movie goes slow-mo, take a sip. You’ll be sloshed and doing much better Lincoln impressions within the first 15 minutes of the movie.

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