Even before its release, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is fighting an onslaught of pretenders that want to steal its thunder. The very concept of a historical U.S. President kickin’ butt against mystical monsters already has a parody in the form of FDR, American Badass. Bunyan, the horror update of the lumberjacking icon, isn’t far removed, either, substituting a mythologized President for a folklore legend but then turning the apparent hero into the piece’s villain for full meta effect. The Space Nazis in Iron Sky fit tangentially here, as well, by taking the kernel of an equally absurd and equally awesome idea that you might have had while drunkenly eating hashbrowns at 3am with your closest friends, and somehow making a feature-length film out of it.
With a title that slaps you in the face and demands that you pay attention lest your unevent existence continue, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter should be the stand-out in the already crowded field. The movie certainly has the best pedigree, being based on a novel by the author who practically created the new genre and directed by Timur Bekmambetov, who killed vaguely tongue-in-cheek bloodsuckers with his modern Russian vampire series, Night Watch and Day Watch. Unfortunately, the first teaser trailer for Lincoln (not to be confused with Spielberg’s Lincoln also coming out this year) is heavy on dimly lit forests, setting the historical playground, and contains more slow motion than a Guy Ritchie movie’s entire run-time.
Clearly, the filmmakers are trying to be the cool uncle of the family, but in doing so forget why they’re supposed to be the “cool” one in the first place: Knowing how to have fun. Granted, I haven’t read Seth Grahame-Smith’s book, yet, but I did check out Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, and that was a rollicking good time. This trailer is so dourly stylized I feel like a sentient Hot Topic store just told me it wanted to die, but hadn’t found an original enough way to commit suicide yet. It’s like they think that if they don’t take this as seriously as Johnny Cash, then nobody will. Which completely misses the point. See for yourself:
Oh, I freely admit that Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter will be the best of the aforementioned bunch in terms of production quality. Millions of dollars in studio financing trumps allowance money and goodwill every time. This is going to be 2012’s Cowboys and Aliens , when we re-learn that pretty and boring don’t a success make. And with 2012 busting at the proverbial seams with movies that seem to have fun and style in good measure, I don’t think this Lincoln is going to survive the summer.
Well, technically, I guess, no Lincoln should ever survive to see the credits of his own movie. But you know what I mean.
UPDATE: Here’s the just-released Italian trailer of the movie, which despite showing virtually the same footage, is just a smidge better due to containing some context via dialogue — though nobody still bothers to mention vampires or Honest Abe by name other than in the title. Enjoy (hat tip /Film):
Rob Payne also writes the indie comic The Unstoppable Force, tweets on the Twitter @RobOfWar, and his ware can be purchased here (if you’re into
that this sort of thing). He swears he isn’t a naysayer out of professional jealousy; he’d love to love this movie.