I'm sick of the sparkly, romantic vampires that are haunting the cineplex. Twilight seems to have infected all horror films, actually, and now everyone in the film is young, handsome and charming, and their desire to kill you by sucking your blood? Well, that's just an awkward bad habit that we should forgive because, well, they're so darn sparkly. Blech.
That's why I really enjoyed the historical mashup Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. Based on the book of the same name by Seth Grahame-Smith, it posits a slightly different Civil War era where the Southern slave owners are actually all vampires, while the North fights not just for the freedom of blacks but also for freedom from the enslaving clutches of the vampire hoards. There are obvious parallels between our contemporary views of slave ownership and the vampire/victim relationship, but rather than be a heavy theme, this is played out in an amusing and entertaining fashion.
In fact I was surprised just how much I enjoyed Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, as I delighted in the historical facts woven into the narrative and the bad-ass ninja Abe portrayed on screen by Benjamin Walker, spinning his silver axe blurringly fast as he kills the vampire hoards. With splendid special effects and some ingenious visuals that occasionally turned the action into sketched storyboards, it highlights the individual talents of director Timur Bekmambetov and producer Tim Burton.
The story starts with Abe as a young boy (played by Lux Haney-Jardine), working on the dock with his father Tom (Joseph Mawle). Slave parents are dragged onto a boat as their young son Will (Curtis Harris, played later as an adult by Anthony Mackie) fights to stay with them. When he's shoved down and beaten, young Abe runs to his rescue, just to be beaten too. Dad isn't okay with that and intervenes, just to have slaveowner and general bad dude Jack Barts (Marton Csokas) stop the fracas and threaten Tom that he'll have his revenge. And he does, killing Abe's mother Nancy (Robin McLeavy) while Abe watches, peeking through the bed slats.
That infuriates Abe and gives him his life's mission: revenge. Fortunately he bumps into the mysterious and charismatic Henry (Dominic Cooper), who promises to teach Abraham how to be a vampire hunter if Abe will pledge his loyalty to Henry and kill the vampires Henry identifies, not just go after Barts. This leads to one of the most enjoyable sequences in the film, the hero's journey moment of Abe learning how to channel his hate, his anger, his energy into a single thing: killing vampires. He chops down a tree with a single stroke of his weapon of choice: a silver-plated axe, and rapidly evolves from a hick woodsman into a ninja killer.