Honest Abe Should Stick To Chopping Wood

Howdy, Our Salonites. Here's a review we posted today at Punchnels.com--our little literary magazine. Just wanted to let you all know we're paying $10 apiece for poetry, fiction, reviews, etc. Come take a look: we've published several OS veterans, including Lorianne. (Lorianne: love Our Salon. Hope to lurk around here some more. Send us something else!)

This piece was written by my son, Nick Honeywell. He's a chip off the ol' block.

As a student of both history and horror, I was delighted to hear Seth Grahame-Smith’s novel Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter was being adapted for the big screen. Even though it sounded inherently stupid (I haven’t read the book, although I hear it’s good), I thought it might turn out to be pretty cool. It didn’t.

If you’re looking for subtlety in the thoughtful examination of major issues facing 19th century America, you won’t find it here. Let’s take the issue of slavery. The first scene involves a slave master relentlessly beating a black child and his family for no apparent reason. There’s even a slow-motion close-up of the whip splitting open the boy’s face. Did anybody think that was cool? It wasn’t.

That’s one of the big problems with the film—it takes itself very seriously. Like it’s a legitimate period piece that expects to have the Academy buzzing its praises. Which might happen when the Academy creates a new category: Most Awkward Performance. The “acting” in the film was reminiscent of the drywall I helped my friend put up last summer: brittle, monochromatic, and smelly.

The way the movie forces historical figures into the story is so half-assed it’s embarrassing. Take, for example, the scene where Honest Abe meets Stephen Douglas for the first time. They have a meaningless, random encounter, and guess what? They disagree about something right away! I half expected “DO YOU UNDERSTAND THIS HISTORICAL REFERENCE?” to flash across the bottom of the screen.

Further fueling the crap fire are the somnambulistic love scenes, the drenched-in-CGI vampires, and--of course--the obligatory cheap “scares” that aren’t actually scary at all. Legitimate fear isn’t caused by a startling orchestral swell. It’s caused by good writing and strong characters—two things this film sorely lacks.

Here’s something Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter isn’t lacking: fog. If you happen to be a fog junky, you’re in for a real treat. When a scene takes place outside, bet your bottom dollar it’s going to be ultra foggy. And while this may add to the “atmosphere” of the film, I suspect its heavy utilization was due to laziness and/or lack of budget. Because when fog is covering the action, you’ve got a helluvalot less CGI to pay for.

So are there any positives at all? The film is pretty to look at. Sometimes. But if you’ve seen the trailer, you’ve seen it all already. I did like that Abe uses an axe to bludgeon vampires. Even though he swings it around like a lithe middle school flag girl in every fucking scene. We get it Abe. You twirl that axe pretty good. Now stop showing off and go chop some wood. Somehow, that’d be more interesting.

 

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Comment by lorianne on June 28, 2012 at 11:38am

he is a chip off the old block!

welcome here Ken .. we should find a way to promote Punchnels here.  as the number of places that pay for words dwindles, its important to support the ones who do pay.   you send me something! a blurb an ad a badge...something. i will find a prominent place to display it.

Comment by Ken Honeywell on June 28, 2012 at 12:56pm

xo, Lorianne. Thanks for doing this.

Comment by Christopher S. Dunn on June 28, 2012 at 2:40pm

Wow, that pretty much sums up my perception upon even hearing that there was a movie called, "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter."  I don't care how much money you throw at a story line like that, it's got SUCKS written all over it.  Thanks for the timely review.  This one won't even make my Netflix list.

Comment by Skypixiezero on June 28, 2012 at 3:32pm

I was going to make a smart-ass comment about not holding back and tell us straight out if you didn't like that film........ And then I saw the trailer. That looks like it ranks right up there with "Plan Nine From Outer Space" and "Reefer Madness" for quality. Makes me glad all over again that I never watch movies anymore. 

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