By Mikhail Chernyavsky

It’s a history lesson you won’t find in the books, the story of the axe-wilding 16th president and his hunt for vampires.

“Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” blends some history with fiction as it tells the story of Honest Abe through a secret journal he kept from the time he was a little boy.

After the death of his mother at the hands of a vampire, Lincoln vows to avenge her and kill as many vampires as he can in the process.

This is Benjamin Walker’s (Lincoln) first title role and he does a solid job as the Great Emancipator. Not only does he walk the walk of the awkwardly taller-than-average man and talk the eloquently-said talk of the historical public speaker, but he also looks the part of the mustache-free lawyer, down to the squarely-bearded chin.

Walker’s performance depicts a conflicted man not only struggling with demons that he must keep secret to protect his loved ones, but also struggling to keep together a war-torn country.

We quickly see a rapidly aging president as the film progresses and perhaps the answer to historians’ debate as to why he aged so harshly is due to his late night hunts.

The film is also the second American directorial effort by Russian director Timur Bekmambetov (2008’s Wanted). He is no stranger to the supernatural genre as he gained the attention of U.S. audiences with the 2004 Russian film “Night Watch” and 2006 sequel “Day Watch” (on a side note, from one Russian with an unpronounceable last name to another, please finish the trilogy and make “Dusk Watch”).

Fans of Bekmambetov will get his familiar use of bullet time as seen in “Wanted.” Some of the profile-shot action sequences are reminiscent of 2006’s “300” as the camera follows along with Lincoln on his blood-splattering rampages.

Aside from Walker’s Lincoln, there are no breakout performances, but that’s not to say it was due to poor acting. The talented cast brings the film to life in a serious manner that feels believable, unlike most other supernatural thrillers that focus on the over-the-top paranormal aspects and sensational acting.

Hunter retells history in the same way that Quentin Tarantino’s “Inglourious Basterds” did of World War II. The film’s serious tone plays out as if it were a historical biopic. If I didn’t know any better, it could pass off as such. Sure it’s a bit of exaggerated fiction, but the method in which it’s done let’s audiences suspended belief of the fantastical.

During a time in which zombies, werewolves, and vampires are the hottest Hollywood trend, Hunter is a refreshing take on the vampire genre that avoids the sexy love stories and focuses on the beast’s true driving force, blood.

Check out “Mark at the Movies” as he talks with the cast about the film.


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