Monday, July 2, 2012

Reviews in Brief: Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter (2012)

by James Hansen

It would be easy to attack “visionary” director Timur Bekmambetov’s Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter for its gross historical implications – its trivialization of slavery, Gettysburg, not to mention Lincoln’s own personal matters (his relationship to Mary Todd, the death of his infant son, etc.) Glenn Kenny has gone so far as to claim “It constitutes a moral sin, if not an outright moral crime, and commits a grave insult to history.”

Fair enough. But perhaps what is most shocking about ALVH is its complete cinematic incompetency, even on the most basic level. It isn’t merely that the film bounds from vampire slaying to actual historical events, thereby leaving its own revisionism in the dust, but that the movements happen so quickly and so insignificantly, that they are constructed so sloppily and, frankly, embarrassingly, the film never reaches a high level of absurdity to allow for the pomposity of visually confusing fight scenes amongst a sudden fleet of crazed horses, a misbegotten invasion of a Louisiana plantation to save Lincoln’s African American companion (no matter the vampiric annihilation of seemingly hundreds of slaves), or nighttime raid of a railroad that methodically burns to the ground. Instead, ALVH hops, skips, and jumps over everything it sets up leaving a trail of emotional and narratival confusion. With storytelling this lazy and images this haphazard, the most baffling thing about ALVH isn’t its premise or its historical sins, but rather that a major studio ever let it out of an editing room.

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