A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is based on a history-twisting novel by Seth Grahame-Smith. Though it plays fast and loose with facts and has a silly premise, the movie has little humor: It's pure action/horror, with lots of revenge, blood, and fighting -- all in 3-D. A boy watches his mother die, a child dies, and women are killed. Vampires are shot through the eye and beheaded. There's a little sex (including one dead, topless girl on display) and some language, including one "f--k" and a couple uses of "son of a bitch." Young Abe is seen drinking heavily while pondering ways to avenge his mother, and another character drinks and takes a puff from a hookah pipe, which appears to be empty.
What's the story?
As a boy, Abraham Lincoln helplessly witnesses his mother's death at the hands of a vampire. When he becomes a man (Benjamin Walker), Abe contemplates his revenge. Then stranger Henry Sturgess (Dominic Cooper) offers to teach him how to fight and kill the evil creatures. In Springfield, Abe does his hunting at night, in between studying the law, working at a general store, and courting Mary Todd (Mary Elizabeth Winstead). He becomes interested in politics, which leads to his being elected president years later. But when vampires from the South begin to turn the Civil War into a bloody massacre, Abe must take up his old hunting ways once again.
Is it any good?
Some of this film's action sequences are big and impressive, but without any emotional involvement, they're as dead as a coffin nail. Director Timur Bekmambetov (Night Watch, Day Watch, Wanted) usually makes hyperkinetic movies that have a few explosive scenes but are ultimately empty. ABRAHAM LINCOLN: VAMPIRE HUNTER is doubly so, since it also squanders a great hero and a potentially pleasingly silly idea. The movie takes the idea of Abraham Lincoln fighting vampires seriously and also doesn't seem to wonder about ridiculous concepts such as Southern vampires supporting slavery.
After simply ignoring everything potentially funny and lively, Abraham Lincoln grinds down on its characters, turning them into empty vessels upon which to hang the action sequences. One shot of bearded, stovepipe-hatted Lincoln marching toward the camera in slow motion like a grindhouse hero shows just what Bekmambetov thinks of him.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter's violence. Is it scary? Does it create tension? How necessary is it to the story?
What historical liberties does the movie take? How creative do you think the storytellers were in taking real events and fitting them to the story? Which scenes were based on real events?
Is the movie's Lincoln a positive role model? What worthwhile qualities does he have? What less admirable qualities does the movie give him?
Is the movie silly or serious, or both? If you've read the book, how does the movie compare?
- In theaters: June 22, 2012
- On DVD or streaming: October 23, 2012
- Cast: Benjamin Walker, Dominic Cooper, Mary Elizabeth Winstead
- Director: Timur Bekmambetov
- Studio: Twentieth Century Fox
- Genre: Horror
- Topics: Book characters, Monsters, ghosts, and vampires
- Run time: 105 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: violence throughout and brief sexuality
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.