I love history, and Abraham Lincoln is probably my favorite president. So I had very mixed feelings about Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. I found it jarring (both in the book and the movie) that the author, Seth Grahame-Smith referred to Lincoln as “Abe,” apparently not bothering to learn that Lincoln disliked that nickname.
Using a nickname the person disliked isn’t a big deal for a movie, but when it comes to history, details do matter, and many of the details in Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter were wrong. For example, Lincoln’s step-mother, who had probably as much of a positive influence on Lincoln as his mother did, is left out entirely. So are Lincoln’s sisters and brothers. Lincoln also had four sons later in life, not just the one. Very well, you might say, but this is supposed to be an entertaining story of revisionist history, so it’s okay if not everything is accurate.
I did enjoy the fact that Lincoln was a vampire killer. At least Grahame-Smith went that route instead of the sparkly undead route, which would have been intolerable. However, I think the best thing I can say about the movie is that it’s clear that Grahame-Smith is canny. He used one of the most popular stories to write his own book (Pride & Prejudice and Zombies), and now he has capitalized on the popularity of one of the most loved and respected leaders in the world. My fear is that many people, not caring to read history, will accept much of what happens in the story (minus the vampires, I dearly hope) as accurate, when it’s at best similar to the truth.
I really wanted to like the movie. After all, it is about Lincoln. However, it was just too ridiculous for me to really enjoy. There were moments when the story was entertaining, but it was rather predictable. Should a story about Abraham Lincoln hunting vampires be predictable? I’m not sure. I left the theater wanting to read some of Lincoln’s writing, to remind myself of his wit and intelligence. Lincoln was a great man, a strong leader in a troubled time. It is not necessary to add vampire-hunting to his repertoire to make him cool. After all, he’s Abraham Lincoln, and that was more than enough.