Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter
Directed by Timur Bekmambetov
20th Century Fox
Opens June 22
The logical outer limit of the whole horror-as-metaphor thing, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter shoehorns the entire personal history of the 16th president into mega-budget The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires chop-socky/grind house schlock, and casts the seditious South as a nation of slave-sucking undead. "History," narrates Abe (Benjamin Walker), "prefers nobility to brutality"— a fact redressed by Seth Grahame-Smith's screenplay, in which the Pride and Prejudice and Zombies author adapts his second cutesy-clever pulp-historical mash-up. Young Mr. Lincoln loses his mother—who actually died from drinking bad milk—to a vampire's bite, takes up training under hunter Henry Sturgess (Dominic Cooper), and learns to search and destroy Nosferatu with his rail-splitter's silver-edged ax, finally setting his sights on head vampire Adam (Rufus Sewell), who lives in the ripe antebellum splendor of a Simon Legree. Shot by the estimable Caleb Deschanel and projected in wholly unnecessary 3-D, Vampire Hunter's bleached palette makes it the ugliest major-studio release this year, though it needs be said that Kazakh director Timur Bekmambetov (Wanted) approaches the material with a degree of Eurotrash insouciance that is probably necessary to approach it at all and crisply handles set pieces involving a horse stampede and a runaway munitions train. Possible resulting "fun" is only slightly mitigated by contemplation of the wearisome decadence of American popular culture.