Film review | Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter – Taking an axe to history (and the bloodsuckers)

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

At last, the secret life of the 16th president of the United States stands revealed. Statesman, orator and stovepipe-hat wearer by day, Abraham Lincoln was by night a fearsome hunter of the undead!

Rip up the history books and don your 3D glasses for Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, a stupefyingly silly but exuberantly entertaining horror fantasy based on the book by screenwriter Seth Grahame-Smith, author of that other cheeky mash-up, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Watch the Great Emancipator save the Union, free the slaves – and lop off scores of vampire heads with a silver-edged axe. What could be more bonkers?

Yet it works because Grahame-Smith and director Timur Bekmambetov play things straight within the bizarre world they have conjured up, a world where vampires run amok in the Confederate South and where Lincoln grows up thirsting for revenge after losing his mother to one of them. So Honest Abe’s rise from rough backwoodsman to the presidency, via shopkeeping and the law, is shadowed by his secret parallel career as a slayer of vampires.

And when it’s time for Abe to start swinging his axe, Bekmambetov (maker of Russian horror fantasies Night Watch and Day Watch, and Hollywood comic-book thriller Wanted) pulls out all the (CGI) stops. Lincoln (played by the appropriately lanky Benjamin Walker) and his vampire nemesis (Marton Csokas) fight to the death while bounding from back to back of a herd of stampeding horses; severed heads fly at a sinister plantation ball presided over by Rufus Sewell’s courtly vampire leader; and, with the outcome of the Civil War in the balance, Lincoln and his allies battle hordes of bloodsuckers atop a hurtling steam train that is plunging into a chasm. None of this will help you get through an exam in American history, but it is enormous fun.

On general release from Friday 25th June.

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To activate the sound in the trailer: hold your cursor over the screen to reveal the control panel and click on the volume control in the bottom right-hand corner.

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