Abraham Lincoln – Vampire Hunter (15/R, 105 mins)
Director: Timur Bekmambetov
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Take another look at that title. Says it all really, doesn’t it? As genre mash-ups go, this is one of the loopiest, though for once it’s not actually based on a comic book, but on a novel from the writer of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Seth Grahame-Smith. That’s another one we can expect to see on our screens soon, by the way.
As if you didn’t already know from the history books, Abraham Lincoln didn’t just free the slaves - before he was president he was a vampire hunter. Benjamin Walker stars as Honest Abe, whom we first encounter as a young boy in 1818 railing against the evils of slavery. But there are other horrors around, and when a man his father owes money to turns out to be a vampire, it ends with the death of his mother.
Fast forward a few years and Lincoln is a young man seeking vengeance against the bloodsucker who killed his mother, though he’s sorely ill-equipped to do so. But he’s recruited and trained by a vampire hunter (Dominic Cooper), allowing us to jump forward again to the 1830s where he’s still carrying out Cooper’s orders and destroying vampires across the country with his weapon of choice, a silver axe.
Action-wise, it’s a magnificently bloody affair, rich in atmosphere, that does a decent job of making vampires truly vicious and frightening. Timur Bekmambetov, the Russian director who made his reputation with the stylish horror fantasies Night Watch and Day Watch, before switching to Hollywood with some success and the adaptation of Mark Millar’s Wanted, handles the frequent slick fights with aplomb.
He douses the whole thing in CGI, most of it very good, including an insane fight and chase scene involving a pack of stampeding horses that’s the film’s nutty centrepiece, though the poorly conceived explosive finale is a bit of a nonsensical letdown.
It’s all completely unstoppable in its silliness, but there are enough splattery decapitations amid the gothic visual splendour to please undemanding gore-hounds.