As if a meteorite of awesomeness slammed into a planet of genius, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter
virtually blows up the world with genius awesomeness. Okay, well there's actually two reviews to be done here, one of the awesome novel, and the other of the film adaptation of the novel, which falls somewhat short of the awesomeness of the novel, if only due to the difficulty of bringing to life the full sweep of what is best set to paper. Have I mentioned that I kinda liked the book?
But enough about me and my likes. So what is the deal here? Well it's kind of all there in the title, actually. The author, Seth Grahame-Smith, had last mixed Jane Austen
's Pride and Prejudice
with some brain-chomping zombies
. So, how better to follow that up? The premise is that the events which shaped the life of America's Sixteenth President, large and small, actually related to a vampiric infestation throughout the nation. Lincoln's mother dies during his childhood? Vampire attack; an event which instills in Lincoln a lifelong hatred of the creatures, to be nourished by newfound friend Henry Sturgess, who instructs Lincoln in the art of vampire hunting and gives him leads to track down local fiends. Hatred of slavery
? Well it turns out, as Lincoln discovers on a trip to the South, that the vampires are using slaves as a food supply, and the only way to break their power is emancipation
. The Civil War
, indeed, is really instigated by vampires plotting to establish their own vampire nation, complete with a perpetual supply of enslaved sustenance.
The book is surprisingly crisply written, stirring in the various factual tidbits of Lincoln's life with the constant subtext of a vampire menace and forays and fights in the dark of night. There is something just resoundingly sweet about such a narrative, and the fact that we know how Lincoln dies in real life does not upset the suspense of how, in the world of this book, the vampire menace will play into that. Sadly, the film does not entirely live up to the promise of the book. It is neither campy enough in its acting to celebrate the absurdity of its subject matter, nor especially scary in its framing. Perhaps the worst sin of all is that it gives way to moments of plodding. But at least it's better than Twilight
So, in sum, skip the film, read the book.