While the actual scenes of vampire slaying provide an exciting and visceral jolt to the viewer, however, the whole debacle quickly devolves into a literally laughable mess of stale acting and trite dialog. Grahame-Smith, who wrote the book upon which the film is based, also penned the screenplay, but he seemed to have zero interest in maintaining a coherent storyline or making his characters interesting. The scenes of dialog and plot development between splattery blood-fests (wonderfully splattery though they were) were seemingly considered to be merely filler to glue together what the filmmakers apparently thought to be the only important aspects of the film: blood and violence. While Bekmambetov's earlier films used this same tactic to some degree, it worked due to either good performances (James McAvoy was just about perfect in Wanted) or a really engaging story (see Night Watch and Day Watch). Clearly not much thought was given to plot in Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, and Benjamin Walker as Lincoln was merely a baby-faced puppet who apparently had trouble even remembering his last name when introducing himself to others.
As a result, things reached a head about halfway through the film, during the climax at the end of the first act (Lincoln is in some trouble in a New Orleans plantation house and gets rescued in the most absurd way imaginable), where my companion and I could not help ourselves any longer and we spent the next five minutes stifling the hysterical peals of laughter which threatened to overcome us and thus disrupt our apparently rapt fellow theater-goers. We never recovered.
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is a nonsensical mess, and the real-life Lincoln deserves better. Yet I would be remiss if I were not to wholeheartedly endorse the viewing of this film in theaters. There is so much wrong with this film that it really needs to be seen to be believed. And besides, as awful as it is, it's Abraham Lincoln killing vampires with an axe—and while it turns out to be not nearly as cool as it sounds (or looks, based on the trailer), it's still something that the conscientious film geek really can't ignore.
Illustration: Sara Lewis